The Kennedy Clan

EMILY: Well, this is just ridiculous. Three intelligent women sitting here in complete silence. There must be something to talk about. Do you know that every night at dinner, the Kennedy clan would sit around the table having lively debates about everything under the sun? They would quiz each other about current events, historical facts, intellectual trivia. Now the Gilmore clan is just as smart and worldly as the Kennedys, so come on – somebody say something.

The Kennedy family have been prominent in American politics, business, and public life since the 1880s, with many of them elected to political office since the post-war era. Some of their most famous members include Joseph P. Kennedy, ambassador to the UK 1938-1940; John F. Kennedy, president from 1961-1963; Robert Kennedy, senator for New York from 1965-1968, and Ted Kennedy, senator for Massachussets from 1962-2009.

Emily is correct that the Kennedy family would quiz each other at the dinner table, but it was a far more competitive environment than she makes it sound. Joseph Kennedy would set one of his children a topic to study, and all the others would have to study it too so that they could quiz him or her to see how well they had learned and understood the topic. Joseph would sometimes enliven proceedings with dinner time lectures, complete with maps and notes.

Incidentally, one of the Kennedys is named Rory – Rory Kennedy (born 1968) is the daughter of Senator Robert Kennedy, born six months after his assassination; her name was chosen to sound like his (“Bobby”). She is a documentary film maker, and her first film was American Hollow in 1999, about life in an Appalachian valley (it bears little resemblance to Stars Hollow). I don’t know if Kennedy influenced the choice of Rory Gilmore’s name in any way.

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