The Married Woman Who Keeps George Maharis Single
Here in New York and out in Hollywood, there are at least six gorgeous young actresses who own “Mimi Weber Dolls”—and who stick pins into them every evening before going to bed. what’s a “Mimi Weber Doll?” Says one of our actress friends, looking up from her saucer of milk: “Well, you take a doll, dress it in a chic black dress, wind it up and it says, ‘Hands off George Maharis.’ ”
Mimi, in case you didn’t already know, is George’s manager, the so-called Lady in Black (George’s favorite color), and without a doubt the best-looking manager in the business. Also, it’s been said, “Mimi is one of the few managers around who loves her Client for more than his ten per cent. In fact, Mimi’s nuts about him.’’
But there are other complications to this could-be love story. The first: Mimi, although long-separated from her husband (her second, rumor has it), is not yet officially divorced from him. The second: George, while extremely fond of Mimi, reportedly isn’t yet sure whether he’s actually in love with her. The third: It seems to be important at this point in George’s career to keep him clear of any serious romantic entanglements—to keep him a bachelor who can neatly fill the marital fantasies of his numerous girl fans.
And just how do these complications sit with Mimi? The first two, naturally, don’t sit too well. But the third—the bachelor bit—is just fine with her. Those in the know say that it is basically Mimi’s decision— both business-wise and personal-wise.
Just as practically every other decision of the past five years—anyway-wise, as long as it concerned George and his life and his career—has reportedly been Mimi Weber’s.
The story of how they first met is pretty well known by now, so we won’t dwell on it here. It’s enough to say they met in New York in 1958, when George—then about twenty- nine—was an unmarried, struggling off- Broadway and TV actor. Mimi—then about George’s age (give or take a few years)—was a vividly pretty, unhappily married mother of an eleven-year-old son, and worked as a secretary at a talent agency. In the course of her work, she was sent to a TV studio one afternoon to get a client’s signature on some sort of contract. She and the Client (George, of course) met, talked, laughed together and became, as they put it, “good friends.”
Says a friend of both: “At the time Mimi was living with her husband out on Long Island. George, who is a great respector of marriage, never made any kind of pass at her nor did he joke about her unhappy home situation when he heard about it. Many guys would, you know. This pleased Mimi very much since she, too, is a straight-from-the-shoulder, no-nonsense kind of a girl.”
That was why, back then, even though a friendship sparked, they both managed in some strange sort of way to see as little of one another as possible. But they did talk on the phone every so often. They did run into each other at the Office, at a studio or at one show business bash or other.
When George got his first big break, his role in “Exodus,” he went to Israel—and dropped Mimi a note once in a great while. Other than the notes and the occasional meetings, they steered clear of one another—as if on purpose, as if one of them sensed too-close contact might start a fire.
Then, about the time George returned from Israel and was scheduled to step into the lead of a planned TV series to be called “Route 66”—his second and best break as it turned out—several drastic and shattering events occurred in Mimi’s life. And that seemingly fateful and unstoppable contact with George was now just a matter of time.
For one thing, Mimi and her husband had decided to separate—never an easy step for a woman—no matter how unhappily married—especially when there’s a child involved.
For another thing, Mimi suddenly lost her job.
This combination of events had caused her much concern and led her to seek out someone understanding and compassionate (“compassionate” is Mimi’s favorite word today when describing George).
And so she turned to George—a George who came running to help. He offered Mimi not only his friendship and compassion, but the job as his manager as well—quite a plum considering it was no secret to anyone that he was well on his way to the big-time.
And, having asked George for help, and having gotten it from him, this was to be the next-to-last time Mimi Weber would ever ask George Maharis for anything. Because from that moment on, the tables would be turned. And it would be George Maharis who would find himself growing more and more dependent on his new manager, Mimi Weber.
The needed one
Says a friend, or at least someone who knows Mimi:
“The moment she got her strength back, it became clear that George was the one who really needed her. Like all actors, George had a certain feeling of unsureness about things. He’d been through the rough times for five or six years—being practically broke, living in a dump, slinging hash for free meals, wearing out his only pair of shoes making the rounds. And now, even though things seemed to be going suddenly well for him, he was still uncertain that it was all for real and that it would all last. And it was Mimi who gave him the encouragement he needed and who told him, ‘You’re the greatest . . . you’re the best . . . nothing can stop you . . . nothing ever will!’—just as she’s been telling him ever since.”
Someone else who knows George and Mimi says, “It’s incredible. But even today, if you invite them for dinner—and it doesn’t matter how many other people are at the table, or who you have at the table—it isn’t unusual for George and Mimi to talk to one another about George’s career, George’s plans, George’s fans, George’s future, George-George-George till it comes out of your ears, and then some.”
But let’s go back a bit, to the beginning of George’s career in the big-time.
Mimi, a smart woman, knew that the boy needed all the encouragement he could get. She knew that, smart as George himself was, he needed good advice on how to avoid the pitfalls (she’d seen, during her agenting days, too many young actor-hopefuls get themselves buried in that vast wasteland of a TV cemetery where, it’s said, they use old antennas as markers instead of tombstones). And Mimi knew, more than anything else, that TV itself was not the end-limit for her boy—but that George Maharis had at his fingertips that rare, very rare, chance to become a superstar one day soon, one of the biggest names in all of show business. If managed right.
And so she managed him. And she couldn’t have done it right-er. Together, they formed a production company that would produce, among other movies, movies for George to star in sometime in the hopefully-near future, or at least as soon as his “Route 66” contract expired. (The name of their company is Geomi—half George and half Mimi.) Meanwhile, she encouraged him to follow the actors-like-to-sing-and-make-a-few-bucks-too trend. He signed a contract with Epic Records and his albums have done beautifully. She also began sitting in on many of George’s interviews with magazine and newspaper reporters (to nudge him on sometimes when he began to grow weary of telling and re-telling the incidents of his very incident-filled life). Even, in fact, giving out many interviews about George herself —much to the delight of writers at times hard-pressed for a story idea on a popular idol. Other managers of stars often complained. “Why don’t I get this kind of Mimi Weber treatment from the press?” The obvious answer was that most of these managers happened not to be as attractive as Mimi, nor as curvaceous, nor as charming, nor as genuine, nor as good a talker, nor as devoted to a client.
Interestingly, though, and after a while, Mimi’s devotion to George Maharis seemed to begin to transcend the “business” end of it all and to veer, more and more, towards the “personal.” That’s when these two began hitting the newspapers as an “item.”
Says one writer: “Few women can be all things to all men, but not even the most jealous female would deny that Mimi Weber has become a good many to George Maharis: mother, sister, friend, manager and possibly sweetheart, to name a few.”
Says a friend of Mimi’s, expanding: “They have the closest manager-client relationship I’ve ever seen. When George is sick, for instance, as he has been recently with hepatitis, there’s no one who suffers for him more than Mimi. And when he’s well, there’s no one who spends more time or energy seeing that he doesn’t get himself sick again. They are practically inseparable whenever George is in New York—which is lots, whether it’s just George and Mimi, or George and Mimi and Mimi’s nice young son, Neil. But mostly, let’s face it, it’s just George and Mimi. And I’ll tell you an interesting little story about their attachment for each other: Recently, Mimi, who hasn’t been too well (Editor’s Note: she underwent a throat operation about a year ago, and obviously the recuperation is slow), went off to Miami for two weeks to be alone and recoup some strength. Now George, when he wants to get away from it all, he goes up to a farm in Connecticut which is run by some friends. Well, what happened here is that Mimi had to get away, and alone. And George was stuck by himself, with nobody. He went off alone to that farm in Connecticut. And I hear he couldn’t have been more lonely there, or more sad—or more anxious for Mimi to get back.”
Says another friend, expanding even further: “Mimi’s gotten George so that he adores Jewish food and even uses Jewish expressions. He goes to Mimi’s mother’s house for dinner often, and sees all of Mimi’s friends and relatives. It’s she who makes all the dates for both of them, as a wife would. And George couldn’t be happier with the set-up.
“In order to keep George happy, Mimi caters to his every wish. He likes her to wear her hair long and loose. So that’s the way she wears it. He’s crazy about black. So Mimi, she goes around looking like she’s in constant mourning—not that she doesn’t look like a very stunning mourner. And anyway, she shouldn’t be complaining. I know I wouldn’t. For instance, for Christmas this year George gave her a magnificent seal coat. So seal’s black, too? That’s the point.”
Was this Christmas gift, one might ask now, a token of gratitude to Mimi from George, or of love—or what? (After all, for gratitude, most managers get an annual case of Scotch from their client—if that—and that’s it.)
But in this case, a garment of ladies’ clothing was involved (very personal) and the garment was of fur (very expensive) and the gift was given at a crucial time (obviously very crucial) in Mimi’s life; witness this quote from still another friend of hers:
“Mimi’s mad about George. It took a lot for her to decide in her own mind that she was going to come out and put up a fight for him. Not that he doesn’t need her or even love her and not that she has to fight another girl for him—but that all this time she’s been burying her head in the sand and not allowing herself to think about just how much she really is in love with him. She finally faced it over the Christmas holidays. She declared it to herself then, and once she did that she declared it to George. Now he knows as well as she does that she’s no longer kidding. She’s in there for keeps and he knows it. She’s finally come right out and made it plain!”
Did George’s coat-giving, one might further wonder, take place “before” or “after” this announcement-of-affections from Mimi?
Chances are the answer is “after”—since, as our source goes on to say:
“George needs Mimi very badly. He realizes it. Whatever his capabilities of ‘deep love’ may or may not be, and that’s an indeterminate factor right now since he’s still wildly wrapped up in himself, it is obvious that he requires the rock and the strength that Mimi signifies.”
What the outcome of all this will be, no one knows for certain right now—least of all Mimi and George. But as any good show-business manager knows, it is good business to keep a handsome young client single. And Mimi Weber is a good show-business manager.
If George did happen to meet someone who could make him know beyond all doubt that he wanted to march down the aisle. Mimi would not interfere. She loves him too much to do anything to hurt him. But George is not out looking for that Other Woman; he is trying to make up his mind about a very special woman—Mimi.
Mimi knows it is good that she is not free to marry George yet. This way neither of them can rush, they’ll both have to be sure. To George, we say it would be hard to find a better wife for you than Mimi. To Mimi, we say best of luck . . . to you both.
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE JUNE 1963