24 March 2008

Hats Off to Mimi Weddell

Hats off to Mimi Weddell

These may be her twilight years, but this star has never shined brighter.
Mimi Weddell is a New York-based actress and model who has posed for high-end Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Juicy Couture ads,
stolen scenes in TV hits "Sex and the City" and "Law & Order" and appeared in the films "Across the Universe," "Hitch" and "The Purple Rose of Cairo."
She's also the focus of "Hats Off," a feature-length documentary profiling the prolific performer - who happens to be 93.

"I don't think of them as jobs," Weddell says. "I just think of it as going along day to day and doing what I have to do."

Weddell didn't begin acting full time until she was 65, following the death of her husband, Dick. "I suddenly decided that I wanted to go a different route, not just having ordinary jobs and things like that," she says. For "Hats Off," which opens Friday, director Jyll Johnston spent 10 years capturing Weddell's life on film.

A true New Yorker, Weddell takes the bus or burns old-fashioned shoe leather to her weekly Pilates and dance workouts, cattle-call auditions and photo shoots. And the dignified dame never steps out of her East Side apartment without her gloves, signature cigarette holder - and hat. "Oh, I probably have about 300 hats," she says. "I think they make a lovely frame, particularly for a woman. You can put on a simple housedress, but when you put on a hat, by golly, you've got a whole different look. As long as you hold your neck up."

Holding her head high is the key to her strength and vigor. Her personal mantra, "Rise above it," is painted on her kitchen

"Whatever comes along, try to think above it," she says. "I came to New York in 1941, and you have no idea how much fun it was then, even with the war. There was a vibrancy and a lightness of just being alive, and we sang all the time. It's different now, of course, but just don't take it too seriously."

She also recommends a home remedy for lifting your spirits. "If I feel a little spacey or weary," she says, "I take a teaspoon full of brandy - one of the best things in the world to make my brain come back. Not much, just a teaspoon, and it works!"

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