Kathy Kinney (born November 3, 1954) is an American actress and comedian. She gained considerable popularity in the late 1990s for playing Mimi Bobeck, the outrageously made-up, flamboyantly vulgar, and vindictive nemesis of Drew Carey on the sitcom The Drew Carey Show. She had been involved with television, feature films, and stage work for years.
Kinney was born in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, the daughter of Irish Americans Marian and Harold Kinney, an automobile dealer. Her father died when she was 15 years old. For two years after high school, Kathy Kinney worked for the California Conservation Corps between 1972 and 1974. After completing a six-month Back Country season in Kings Canyon, she left the program with thousands of dollars in scholarships. She attended the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point, and in 1976 moved to New York City, where she found work as a secretary at WCBS-TV. Her boss enjoyed hunting, and sometimes she chatted with him about his hunting trips, occasionally quipping, "So, did you kill anything this week?" She used this experience to inspire herself for the role of Mimi. During this time at WCBS she also worked nights at New York comedy clubs to improve her improvisational comedy skills. This eventually led to a job teaching improv classes. One such class had in its attendance Bill Sherwood, a director. He later wrote a part for her in his 1986 film, Parting Glances.
Armed with the success of Parting Glances, Kinney visited friends in Los Angeles, and decided to permanently move there to pursue a career in acting. In L.A., Kinney worked hard as a character actress, getting small roles in various TV series such as Seinfeld (Season 4, Episode 22, "The Handicap Spot)", Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (with Drew Carey, with whom she would work again in The Drew Carey Show), Grace Under Fire, Full House, The Larry Sanders Show, and My Name Is Earl. Her first memorable television role is generally considered her regular stint on Newhart as Ms. Goddard, the town librarian (1989–1990).
Kinney has avoided auditions for what she calls "the heavy-girl roles". Critics occasionally grumble that Mimi, her character on The Drew Carey Show, is a waddling fat joke, but her weight has never seemed to be the point of a fat joke. "One time I had to say to Drew, 'Aw, you're just fat,' as the ultimate put-down. I personally don't like it, but if fat jokes slip in because they're funny, I don't care." She is, however, less comfortable about being typecast because of her weight. "Once in a while I would lose some weight, just by accident, and someone would say to me, 'You're going to diet yourself out of a career,'" she says. "And I tell them, 'I'm losing weight, not my talent.' Why is it the first thing [some people] look at is the shape? It points up to me the prejudice that still exists." The Mimi Bobeck character was written only into the pilot of Drew Carey Show. The character interviewed for a cosmetics job at Winfred-Louder and when not hired, because of her garish makeup, raised a big fuss and threatened to sue. Positive public reaction prompted the Mimi storyline to continue, as the store hired her as a secretary to prevent her from suing. The show aired from 1995 to 2004.
Kinney has also appeared in the American version of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, again working with Drew Carey.
In addition to her television roles, Kinney has also appeared in several movies, including Arachnophobia, Stanley & Iris, Scrooged, Three Fugitives, Lenny the Wonder Dog, and This Boy's Life. In 2006 she visited Iraq with former co-star Drew Carey and his Improv All-Star Team, a series of USO performance for American troops; film of her appearance appears in the documentary Patriot Act: A Jeffrey Ross Home Movie.
In 2008, Kinney became the co-creator and star of MrsP.com, an entertainment website for children. Kinney portrays Mrs. P, an eccentric redhead who loves books and reads classic children's stories from her magical library. After nearly two years in development, the site launched in beta on November 10, 2008.
On March 24, 2009, Kinney appeared in character as Mimi in the beginning of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. A week later (April Fools' Day), Kinney reprised her role as Mimi during that day's The Price Is Right, hosted by Carey, appearing as a guest model. She repeated the role on April Fool's Day 2010, this time usurping the post of executive producer. She replaced the show's announcer with a man in a monkey suit along with using 4 male models.
She guest starred on The Penguins of Madagascar as Rhonda the walrus, Marlene's disgusting roommate, in the 2009 episode "Roomies". Rhonda made a second appearance in the episode "The Hoboken Surprise" in 2011.
In March 2010, Kinney co-authored with Cindy Ratzlaff a book entitled Queen of Your Own Life: The Grown-up Woman's Guide to Claiming Happiness and Getting the Life You Deserve, published by Harlequin.
Kinney has also been doing guest spots on The Secret Life of the American Teenager.
Beginning in March 2011, Kinney has appeared in Drew Carey's Improv-A-Ganza.