Marilyn "Mimi" French
Marilyn “Mimi” French came to stay with us at Caring House, and we were honored to welcome her and her family.
We are grateful to share Mimi’s story, which was written by her daughter Cindy Whitehead-Logan. Originally written as her obituary, Cindy then shared it with this introduction:
“My mom’s obit is NOT traditional. I made it humorous because I wanted to laugh and smile when I remember her – and hope others do the same.
It is in the Easy Reader newspaper – it was her favorite local paper, and she looked forward to it being delivered each Thursday. It was only fitting that this is where I ran her obituary.
I hope it makes you crack up when you read it – she would have loved that.”
Lessons from Mimi – A Non-Traditional Mom
If you ever broke the rules as a child and were “grounded for a week,” but your parents didn’t enforce it, they probably never took notes from Hermosa Beach mom, Marilyn “Mimi” French. Mimi, the one mom in the neighborhood who could hold her own in a standoff with her own two kids when they were grounded, passed away on December 28th, 2022.
She grew up as the only child of Helen and Todd Zinn in a courtyard bungalow in Hollywood, CA. Mimi started her life as a nude actress when she played Katherine Hepburn’s infant daughter in the RKO Picture “A Woman Rebels.” In keeping with her Hollywood upbringing, she attended Hollywood High, was in the fencing club, hiked with her friends to the Hollywood sign for picnics, and hung out after school at the gates of Paramount Pictures, getting autographs from the stars.
She attended LACC, earned her BA, and met her first husband, with whom she had two willful children. In 1961 she followed her parents to Hermosa Beach, returned to school, and earned her master’s degree in Education. Her membership in MENSA led her to a third husband and, later, the love of her life, Arlo Dundas. Mimi traveled all over the world, which was one of her greatest passions. She taught math at Hillcrest Jr High for most of her career, but school wasn’t the only place mom was imparting her wisdom.
Here are a few of her gems.
Grounding your kids for a week means seven whole days – not a minute earlier. Birthday parties, proms, and Mammoth invites be damned.
Paint the curb in front of your house purple – so people won’t park there and because no matter what the city says, red is not a good color.
When the city asks about said purple curb, blame it on your adult daughter.
Never discuss politics or money. Or if you have had facial work done.
Scrambled eggs cooked with Campbell’s mushroom soup can be served to your kids for dinner.
When you walk into your adult children’s homes, find one thing to compliment – even if their place looks like a surf shack.
A man is the icing on the cake – not the whole cake.
Want to take a ride on the Good Year Blimp? Ask everyone you know (and some you don’t) if they can make it happen. (I did.)
If you are a single mom on a budget, wrap gifts in the colorful funny papers – much to your kid’s chagrin. And way before recycling was popular.
Diet Coke for breakfast is a staple. Coffee is not.
Take your kids in a VW van on a sabbatical in Mexico and Guatemala for a year and leave all their textbooks at home. Traveling is education.
Don’t hold back when playing Scrabble, even with your kids.
Do you like to fly? Randomly show up at Torrance Airport and ask unsuspecting Cessna pilots to give you a ride. Ignore it when your kids say, “Ugh! That’s so weird, mom!”
Convince your daughter that you “just know” when she ditches school to skateboard – never let on that you have friends in the Mira Costa attendance office who report back to you.
There is nothing a long walk on the beach can’t fix.
Love your son-in-law a LOT, and keep reminding your daughter how lucky she is every chance you get.
Make sure you plant bushes that attract hummingbirds – they will bring you happiness.
During Mimi’s 86 years here on earth, she lived a fascinating and full life – when she wasn’t extremely busy making sure her daughter didn’t sneak out of the house after being grounded.
Mimi is now reunited with her beloved scrabble partner and true love, Arlo Dundas. As per her request, Mimi’s ashes were scattered into the ocean in the South Bay on January 13th, 2023, with her daughter Cindy Whitehead and son-in- law, lan Logan, in attendance. A bench in her memory will be installed on the greenbelt in Hermosa, where she loved to see people she knew, the parade of dogs, and her beloved birds.
Mimi passed away on December 28, 2022. Honor her. Remember her.