Lewis and Clark

LUKE: Hey!
LORELAI: Lewis and Clark have returned.

Captain Meriweather Lewis and his close friend Second Lieutenant William Clark were American explorers who formed an expedition which ran from 1804 to 1806. It was the first American expedition to cross the western portion of the United States, beginning in St. Louis, Missouri, and ending on the Pacific Coast.

Katharine Hepburn

EMILY: You know what, I’m not returning the gift. I’m going to put it away in a closet and you won’t know what it is until you do get married someday.
LORELAI: Tell me now!
EMILY: Sorry.
LORELAI: Come on! Mom, I may never get married. I may be a free spirit my whole life, or fall in love with a separated Catholic guy like Katharine Hepburn did, and then not get to go to his funeral when he dies.

Katharine Hepburn (1907-2003) was an American actress who was born and grew up in Hartford; like Rory, she attended a private school there. A leading lady in Hollywood for more for 60 years, she received four Academy Awards for Best Actress – a record number for any performer. In 1999 Hepburn was named the greatest female star of Classic Hollywood Cinema by the American Film Institute.

After beginning her career in theatre, success on Broadway brought Katharine Hepburn to Hollywood, and she received her first Academy Award for her third film, Morning Glory (1933). This was followed by a series of failures, but she arranged her own comeback by buying the rights to the film The Philadelphia Story (1940), only selling them on condition of starring in itself. The film was a massive success, and is regarded as one of the best screwball romantic comedies of all time.

In the 1940s Hepburn was contracted by MGM, where she frequently played opposite film star Spencer Tracy (1900-1967); their screen partnership lasted 25 years, and produced nine movies. Hepburn and Tracy maintained a private relationship for 26 years, lasting until his death. Spencer Tracy was married, but had been separated from his wife for several years before beginning his relationship with Katharine Hepburn.

Spencer Tracy was a Catholic, but it is not clear if this was the reason for not divorcing his wife (who was an Episcopalian). From comments he made, it seemed more as if he was going along with the wishes of his wife, while Hepburn didn’t interfere and never pushed for marriage. After his death, Katharine Hepburn did not attend his funeral out of consideration for his wife and children.

Past Graduates of Harvard

LORELAI: Past graduates. Henry James … isn’t that a beer?
RORY: And a novelist. Go on.
LORELAI: John Adams. That’s a beer!
RORY: Our second president. He’s very in right now.
LORELAI: W.E.B. Du Bois, Yo-Yo Ma. Oh cool! Fred Gwynne.
RORY: Who?
LORELAI: Herman Munster. Now I’m impressed.

Henry James (1943-1916), earlier mentioned, was an American-born British author, often considered one of the greatest novelists of all time. He is best known for his novels and stories depicting interactions between Americans, English people, and Continental Europeans, such The Portrait of a Lady, and The Ambassadors. Henry James’ style closely examines the psychology of his characters in an ambiguous or contradictory way. There is no beer named Henry James that I know of. Henry James attended Harvard Law School in 1862, but soon discovered he had no interest in law, and pursued a literary career instead, so he isn’t actually a graduate.

John Adams (1735-1826) was an American statesman and Founding Father of the United States who served as the Vice-President of the US, and as the second President of the US from 1797 to 1801. Adams tended to be a rather obscure president for many years, with many Americans knowing nothing about him, until the publication of his biography John Adams by popular American historian David McCullough in May 2001. It was very favourably received, and brought about a resurgence in Adams’ reputation. Rory seems to be referring to this book by saying Adams “is very in right now”, and has almost certainly read it. There is actually a beer named John Adams. John Adams entered Harvard in 1751, graduating in 1755 with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

William Edward Burghardt “W.E.B.” Du Bois (1868-1963) was an American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, and writer. He was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1909, and was the leader of the Niagara Movement who worked for equal rights for blacks. A prolific author, Du Bois’ 1903 essay collection The Souls of Black Folk was a seminal work in African-American literature, and his 1935 Black Reconstruction in America was his greatest work. The Civil Rights Act, embodying many of the reforms for which Du Bois had campaigned, was enacted the year after his death. W.E.B. Du Bois attended Harvard from 1888 to 1890, where he received his second bachelor’s degree, graduating cum laude.

Yo-Yo Ma (born 1955) is a French-born American cellist. A child prodigy, he has performed as a soloist with orchestras around the world, recorded more than 90 albums, and received 18 Grammy Awards. He has received several prestigious awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. Yo-Yo Ma received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard in 1976, and in 1991 Harvard awarded him an honorary doctorate.

Frederick “Fred” Gwynne (1926-1993) was an American actor, singer, artist, and author, best-known for his roles in 1960s sitcoms such as The Munsters, where he played Herman Munster, who resembled Frankenstein’s monster. He also sang professionally, painted, and was a successful children’s author. Fred Gwynne graduated from Harvard in 1951, and was highly involved in Harvard life, including as a member of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals.

 

David Lynch

LORELAI: We are not gonna have this fight in a flowery bedroom with dentists singing Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves [sic] in the background. It’s too David Lynch!

David Lynch (born 1946) is an American film maker, musician, actor, and artist. His first feature-length work was the surrealist horror film Eraserhead (1977), which became a cult classic, and he gained mainstream success with the biographical film The Elephant Man (1980), previously mentioned. The science-fiction epic Dune (1984) was a failure, while his mystery film Blue Velvet (1987) was controversial upon release, but now regarded as one of the greatest films of its era.

He is well known for his mystery horror television series Twin Peaks (1990-1991), which was a smash hit around the world, quickly gained a cult following, and caused him to be labelled the “first popular Surrealist”. He also directed Wild at Heart, earlier mentioned as a film Nicolas Cage starred in.

It becomes apparent during the show that Lorelai is a David Lynch fan.

Liberace

LORELAI: Okay, I think we just found the first room in the history of the world that would’ve made Liberace say, “Whoa. Step back. No one’s that gay.”

Władziu Liberace, known professionally as Liberace (1919-1987) was an American pianist, singer, and actor. A child prodigy, he had a career spanning four decades of concerts, recordings, television and film. At the height of his fame, from the 1950s to the 1960s, he was the highest-paid entertainer in the world, with residencies in Las Vegas, and an international touring schedule. He was known for his flamboyantly excessive lifestyle, earning him the title “Mr. Showmanship”.

For years, Liberace denied allegations he was homosexual, successfully suing publications that hinted at his sexuality (hence his famous catchphrase: “I cried all the way to the bank”.) He continued denying them, even when his chauffeur and former lover sued him for palimony (it was settled out of court). He died of AIDS, having been diagnosed as HIV positive 18 months previously, with other of his lovers dying of the same illness.

Nicolas Cage and Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

RORY: A cool B&B?
LORELAI: Yes.
RORY: That’s like saying an understated Nicholas Cage movie.
LORELAI: Listen, I myself am not usually a fan of the B&B, but Donald’s place is different.
RORY: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.
LORELAI: I’m serious.
RORY: “Bella bambina at two o’clock.”

Nicolas Cage, born Nicolas Coppola (born 1964) is an American actor, director, and producer. He is the nephew of director Francis Ford Coppola, and the cousin of director Sofia Coppola. After making his debut in Fast Times at Ridgemont High in 1982, in his early career, Nicolas Cage starred in slightly off-beat films such as Valley Girl (1983), Raising Arizona (1987), and Wild at Heart (1990). In 1995 he won the Academy Award for Best Actor for Leaving Las Vegas, and gained mainstream success in films such as The Rock (1996), Con Air (1997), and City of Angels (1998). His acting style has been described as “operatic”, while he himself refers to his method as “Noveau Shamanic” – hence Rory’s inference that a Nicolas Cage movie can never be understated.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is a 2001 war film directed by John Madden, and based on the 1994 novel of the same name by British novelist Louis de Bernières. Nicolas Cage has the title role of Captain Antonio Corelli, and the film is set on the Greek island of Cephalonia during World War II. The film received poor reviews.

In the film, when Captain Corelli first spots his love interest Pelagia (Penelope Cruz) in a crowd, he shouts out to his men: “Bella bambina at two o’clock! Eyes right!”, so that they can all witness and acknowledge her beauty.

The film was released in the US on August 17 2001, so Rory mentioning it is slightly anachronistic – according to the show’s timeline of events, Rory can’t have seen it yet, as it won’t come out for a another few days from her perspective.

Lorelai and Rory apparently now hate B&Bs, even though Lorelai and Sookie were talking about opening one a few episodes ago.