Claudine Longet

LORELAI: Who the hell is that anyways?
RORY: Claudine Longet.
LORELAI: The chick who shot the skier?
RORY: Uh, sure, why not.
LORELAI: Wow – Renaissance woman.

Claudine Longet (born 1942) is a French singer, dancer, and actress who was popular during the 1960s and ’70s. In 1976 she was arrested and charged with fatally shooting her boyfriend, the American Olympic skier Vladimir “Spider” Sabich in Aspen, Colorado. She claimed that the gun had discharged accidentally while Sabich was showing her how it worked.

Although the Aspen police gained evidence that Longet had cocaine in her system, and that her relationship with Sabich had become unhappy, they made procedural errors which meant that their evidence could not be used in court. Prosecutors noted that the autopsy report showed that Sabich had been bent over, facing away, and at least six feet (1.8 m) from Longet, which isn’t the usual position you take when showing someone how to handle a gun.

The jury convicted her of negligent homicide, and she was sentenced to pay a small fine and to spend thirty days in gaol in the manner of her own choosing. She chose to serve her sentence as weekend detention, and attracted public censure for going on holiday with her married defense attorney; they eventually married and still live in Aspen.

Longet was sued by the Sabich family, and the case was settled out of court. The conviction essentially ended Longet’s career, and she has lived out of the public eye ever since.

Rick James and Hugh Grant

RORY: Her [Paris’] dad’s like this big wig at a huge pharmaceutical company and they’re printing all the sordid details about it [his divorce] in the paper.
LORELAI: Ooh how sordid?
RORY: Well, it’s not the Rick James incident, but Hugh Grant should be feeling pretty good about himself.

American R&B singer Rick James (1948-2004) had several public scandals. In 1991, he and his wife were accused of holding a woman hostage for several days during a cocaine binge, tying her up, and forcing her to perform sexual acts. In 1993, while out on bail, he and his wife were accused of kidnapping and assaulting a female business associate for several hours. He was found guilty in both cases, sentenced to two years prison, and ordered to pay his second victim $2 million in damages in a civil suit. Released from prison in 1996, he was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in 1998, but charges were later dropped. It may be this final “incident” that Rory is alluding to.

British actor Hugh Grant (born 1960) [pictured] was arrested in Los Angeles in 1995 for receiving oral sex in a car from a Hollywood prostitute named Divine Brown. He was fined, placed on two years probation, and ordered to complete an AIDS education program. The incident occurred just before his film Nine Months was released, but he was able to gain public appreciation by speaking honestly about what he’d done and not making any excuses for his behaviour. As a result, no major damage was done to his career or reputation.

Mr. Geller’s scandalous exploits are apparently significantly worse than an encounter with a prostitute, but not as bad as the sexual assault allegations levelled at Rick James. We know that they must be sexual in nature, and of enough public interest to be reported in the newspaper. Other than that, they must be left to our imaginations.

Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding

As they prepare for their ice skating date, Rory identifies herself as Nancy Kerrigan [pictured on the right], while Lorelai says she is Tonya Harding [left].

Nancy Kerrigan (born 1969) is a former figure skater, who became the US Champion in 1993. In 1994 she was clubbed in the knee by an assailant hired by the ex-husband of her rival Tonya Harding (born 1970), in an attempt to break her leg so that she would be unable to compete at the Winter Olympics.

The attack took place at the US Figure Skating Championships, ruling her out of the competition, which was won by Harding. Kerrigan made a good recovery from her injury (her knee was only bruised, not broken), and won silver at the 1994 Winter Olympics, held seven weeks later.

In March 1994, Harding pleaded guilty to conspiring to hinder prosecution of the attackers. She was fined and sentenced to community service, and was also forced to withdraw from the 1994 World Figure Skating Championships and to resign from the US Figure Skating Association. She was later stripped of her 1994 US Championships title and banned for life from participating in professional ice skating events in any capacity.

The fevered publicity generated by the scandal created a boom in professional ice skating, and may have even contributed to Rory’s interest in the skating film Ice Castles; like Lexie in the film, both Kerrigan and Harding came from modest backgrounds.

It is entirely within character that Rory identifies with the pageant-pretty “ice princess” Kerrigan who learned to fit in with the social conventions of the skating world, while Lorelai identifies with Harding – generally seen as an overly-dramatic emotional mess from the wrong side of the tracks. Harding also had issues with her mother, just as Lorelai does with Emily.

Jimmy Hoffa

LUKE: So who are you gonna go find now?
LORELAI: Stop.
LUKE: How about Jimmy Hoffa? That’ll keep you busy for a while.

James “Jimmy” Hoffa (1913-1975) was an American union leader who was President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters from 1958 to 1971. He had links with organised crime, and was accused of jury tampering, attempted bribery, and fraud in 1964. He was imprisoned in 1967, and released in 1971 after being pardoned by President Richard Nixon in exchange for his resignation from the union presidency; he was barred from union activities until 1980.

Jimmy Hoffa vanished in 1975 while on his way to meet two Mafia leaders, and was declared legally dead in 1982. Several people have come forward saying that they know where Hoffa’s body is, or even claiming to have killed him, but their evidence hasn’t been corroborated, or their testimony unable to be proven. The FBI believe that Hoffa was murdered by the Mafia, but the case remains open.

Crazy Bomber

DEAN: So am I like public enemy #1 with you?
LORELAI: #1? I don’t know, would you settle for top five? Because I’m still a little hot for that crazy bomber guy who’s been living in a cave for a year.

Lorelai is most likely referring to domestic terrorist Eric Rudolph (born 1966), known as the Olympic Park Bomber. He perpetrated the Centennial Olympic Park bombing at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, and went on to commit a series of anti-abortion and anti-gay motivated bombings between 1996 and 1998 in the southern states of the US.

Rudolph was listed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted, and lived as a fugitive in the Appalachian wilderness for five years, camping in the woods. Lorelai assumes that Rudolph must be living in a cave because the authorities were scouring the area in search of him.

Rudolph was arrested in 2003 and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole in 2005. He is currently serving his sentence in a Colorado prison, spending most of the day in solitary confinement.

Double Indemnity

This is the movie that Lorelai and Emily watch on TV while Rory is at the dance. Double Indemnity is a 1944 film noir, directed by Billy Wilder, and based on James M. Cain’s 1943 novella of the same name; Raymond Chandler co-wrote the screenplay with Wilder. The original novella was partly based on a true story – a 1927 high-profile murder by a married woman and her lover, in which the criminals were soon arrested and convicted.

The film stars Fred MacMurray as an insurance agent, and Barbara Stanwyck as a flirtatious housewife who wants her husband dead so she can collect the insurance money. Unable to resist her charms, the insurance agent uses his knowledge to make her husband’s murder look like an accident, triggering the “double indemnity” clause so that she will receive double the amount.

Double Indemnity was an immediate hit on release, and had good reviews from critics. Its reputation has grown over the years, and it is now considered one of the greatest in the film noir genre, and is sometimes cited as the first film noir ever made.

Emily mentions that she loves Barbara Stanwyck’s husky voice, and Lorelai says Emily’s voice is somewhat like Stanwyck’s. Lorelai teases that Emily could have gotten Fred MacMurray to kill Richard if she’d really wanted to.

Although Emily usually gets annoyed with Lorelai’s constant jokes, for once she is able to accept the teasing with little complaint – perhaps because it is complimentary for a change.

Squeaky Fromme

TRISTAN: Uh-huh. Well, look, Okay, I’ll confess something to you. I don’t have a date.
RORY: Well I hear Squeaky Fromme is up for parole soon. You should keep a good thought.

Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme (born 1948) was a member of the infamous Manson Family. She was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1975 for the attempted assassination of President Gerald Ford, and was released on parole in 2009; she now lives in a small town in New York state. She is one of only two former followers of Charles Manson who never renounced the cult leader and continued to profess her allegiance to him.