A Frank Lloyd Wright Situation

LORELAI: Mom, you know, if you’re not a little nicer to your help, you might find yourself in a Frank Lloyd Wright situation … Mrs. Wright apparently had this major problem with her help. She was very rough on them and they totally hated her. So this guy who had worked for her forever, he had finally had enough … Anyhow, Mrs. Wright invites this whole posse of people over for dinner and they’re all sitting around eating, and Mr. Disgruntled Servant Guy goes outside and locks all the doors and windows and douses the whole house in gasoline and sets the place on fire … So the house is on fire, and people are freaking out, so they run to the doors but the doors are locked, so a few of them try to get out through the windows, but Mr. Angry-Puss is standing outside with an ax hacking them to death and so they all died.

Lorelai refers to the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959). It’s often been speculated that he was one of the inspirations for the character of Howard Roark in Ayn Rand’s novel, The Fountainhead.

Although Lorelai typically gets her facts a little mangled, the seemingly outrageous story she relates about him is essentially true. The woman involved wasn’t Wright’s wife, but the woman he had left his wife for and was living with in a domestic partnership that was considered scandalous at the time.

Her name was Mary “Mamah” Borthwick, a translator who had left her husband and children to be with Wright in 1909, living together since 1911 (after her divorce came through), in a house Wright built for Mamah in Spring Green, Wisconsin, called Taliesin (“shining brow” in Welsh).

In 1914, their recently-hired servant Julian Carlton, a man from Barbados who was mentally unstable, set fire to their house and murdered seven people with an axe as they fled the burning structure. The dead included Mamah Borthwick, her two visiting children, aged 8 and 12, a gardener, a draftsman, a workman, and the son of Wright’s carpenter. Carlton attempted suicide straight after the attack, and starved himself to death in jail despite receiving medical attention.

Julian Carlton never did give a motive for his actions, but there’s some evidence that he had disputes with the workmen, and that he knew he was about to lose his job. There’s no evidence that it had anything to do with Mamah Borthwick herself, and the victims, apart from Borthwick and her children, were not dinner guests, but workmen employed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

The devastated Frank Lloyd Wright rebuilt the house in Mamah’s honour, but it burned down again in 1925 after being hit with a lightning storm. It was rebuilt again, and this third version of Taliesin is now open for tours and events.

[Photo shows Taliesin as it was in 1911]

Winona Ryder

JACKSON: Does anyone here understand that a man has a right not to have his personal life debated in a public forum? I am not Winona Ryder.

Winona Ryder, professional name of Winona Horowitz (born 1971), actress. Her first role was in Lucas (1986), and she came to attention in Beetlejuice (1988). She rose to prominence with major roles in quirky films such as Heathers (1989), Mermaids (1990), Edward Scissorhands (1990), Reality Bites (1994), and Girl, Interrupted (1999). She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2000.

After a performance in the critically panned Mr Deeds (2002), he career went into a decline for a while; at this time, her most recent film was the minor hit Simone, which had come out the preceding summer. Her career recovered in 2009, and since 2016 she has starred in the Netflix series, Stranger Things.

Ryder’s high-profile relationship with actor Johnny Depp from 1989 to 1993 made her easy tabloid fodder, as did her 2001 arrest for shoplifting, accused of stealing more than $5000 worth of designer clothing from Saks. Ryder explained she was clinically depressed and using painkilling drugs at the time. Sentenced in December 2002, she had to serve 480 hours of community service, and pay $3700 in fines, as well as paying Saks $6355 in restitution. This what Jackson is referring to – as it’s only a month before the verdict, the media would have been in a frenzy by this stage.

[Picture shows Ryder during her court case in 2002]

Ted Bundy

RORY: Well, Jamie must be special.

PARIS: Or Ted Bundy.

Theodore “Ted” Bundy, born Theodore Cowell (1946-1989), serial killer who kidnapped, raped, and murdered numerous young women and girls during the 1970s and possibly earlier. After more than a decade of denials, he confessed to 30 murders committed in seven states between 1974 and 1978. His true victim total is unknown, and is likely significantly higher.

Bundy was regarded as charismatic and handsome, and exploited this to win the trust of both his victims and society as a whole – hence Paris sardonic comment that a “nice guy” like Jamie may be too good to be true.

In 1975, Bundy was arrested and jailed for aggravated kidnapping and attempted criminal assault. He then became a suspect in a progressively longer list of unsolved homicides in several states. Bundy engineered two dramatic escapes and committed further assaults, including three murders, before his ultimate recapture in 1978. He received three death sentences in two trials and was executed at Florida State Prison.

Bundy has been described as “a sadistic sociopath”, and “the very definition of heartless evil.” He called himself, “the most cold-hearted son-of-a-bitch you’ll ever meet”.


SHERRY: Didn’t you schedule yours?

LORELAI: Not quite. A half hour before I had Rory, I was eating a pepper sandwich and watching TV. [to Rory] You were almost named Quincy.

Quincy ME, mystery medical drama series which aired from 1976 to 1983 (Lorelai must have been watching a repeat). Jack Klugman stars in the title role as a LA medical examiner who routinely engages in police investigations. The show was inspired by the book Where Death Delights, by Marshall Houts, a former FBI agent. Quincy’s character is loosely modelled on LA “Coroner to the Stars” Thomas Noguchi.

Lorelai said that she spent several hours in labour before having Rory. I presume that when she says she was watching TV half an hour before having Rory, she means that’s what she was doing half an hour before labour started.

“She meant to run all those people down”

SHERRY: Maureen’s the instigator of this little soiree. She has her own publicity firm in New York …

MAUREEN: She meant to run all those people down, but you didn’t hear it from me.

Maureen refers to publicist, manager, and socialite Elizabeth “Lizzie” Grubman (born 1971). In 2001, after being asked by security to remove her vehicle from a fire lane, she intentionally drove her Mercedes Benz SUV into a crowd of outside an inn in the Hamptons, injuring 16 people.

Grubman was later charged with second-degree assault, driving while intoxicated, and reckless endangerment. The trial gained widespread media coverage because of the circumstances and because of Grubman’s profile and attitude. She is alleged to have said, “Fuck you, white trash”, before ploughing her car into the crowd. Later allegations were that she received special treatment from the police.

In 2002, Grubman served thirty-eight days in jail after reaching a plea bargain. She maintains that the incident was accidental.

“Andrew Jackson, not Alfred E. Neuman”

LUKE: And he paid cash? … Did you make sure Andrew Jackson was on the bills, not Alfred E. Neuman or someone?

Andrew Jackson, previously discussed. Former president Andrew Jackson is on the US $20 bill.

Alfred E. Neuman, the fictitious mascot and cover boy of the humour magazine Mad. The image had been used since the 19th century in advertising, and for Roosevelt’s political campaign in the 1930s. Mad magazine claimed the image in 1954, and named him “Alfred E. Neuman” in 1956. Since his debut, he has appeared on all but a handful of the magazine’s covers.

In 1967, the magazine published pictures of joke coins and a three dollar bill with Alfred E. Neuman’s face on it. Despite being an obvious satire on coin collecting, some readers cut the notes out of the magazine and were able to use them in Las Vegas money-changing machines, leading to federal authorities moving to stamp out this counterfeit operation.

Mad magazine went on to publish fake Monopoly money, and smaller versions of the three dollar bill which were given out as novelties at trade shows and conventions.


LORELAI: [on phone] You just flew back on your jet, huh? . . . From Maui?

Maui is the second largest island of the state of Hawaii, famous for its beautiful beaches, and a very popular tourist destination.

While Lorelai actually says “Maui”, the audio doesn’t seem to quite match up. Apparently, she originally said “Bali”, an island in Indonesia which is also a popular tourist destination. “Eight O’clock at the Oasis” aired on October 22 2002 – just ten days after a bomb attack in Bali which killed 202 people and left 209 injured, on October 12 2002. Because of that, Bali was re-recorded as Maui.

“Dead mother sitting in a rocking chair”

LORELAI: Let me just say, if we walk in there and his dead mother is sitting in a rocking chair, not a bit surprised.

A reference to the 1960 film Psycho, previously discussed.

In the film, the deranged murderer kills his own mother, but keeps her in the basement sitting in a rocking chair, treating her as if she were still alive. This seems to be another clue that Lorelai suspects Dwight of murdering Beenie Morrison, or being a serial killer.

“Holed up in the Chelsea”

RORY: I don’t know. Your parents just made it sound like . . .

CAROL: Like I was holed up in the Chelsea with a needle sticking out of my arm screaming “Sid” at the top of my lungs?

A reference to Nancy Spungen (1958-1978), American girlfriend of English punk rocker Sid Vicious, and a figure of the 1970s punk rock scene. The two of them were habitutal heroin users, and eventually Nancy’s body was found in the bathroom of their room at the Hotel Chelsea in New York, stabbed to death. Sid Vicious died of an overdose before he could be brought to trial.

Their story is told in the film Sid and Nancy, previously discussed [pictured]. Carol seems to have all the same references as Lorelai as well.