Jessica Hahn

LORELAI: Instead, I got pregnant. I didn’t finish high school, I didn’t marry your father and I ended up in a career that apparently Jessica Hahn would think was beneath her.

Jessica Hahn (born 1959), model and actress. She accused televangelist Jim Bakker of rape while employed as a church secretary. After the 1987 scandal, Hahn posed nude for Playboy, appeared in several television shows, including Married … with Children, and was a frequent guest on The Howard Stern Show on radio in the 1980s through to the 2000s.

Charlie Rose

MISS PATTY: Transcript?

LORELAI: Yeah, Taylor, this isn’t Charlie Rose.

Charlie Rose, television interview and talk show, hosted by journalist Charles “Charlie” Rose (born 1942). Rose interviewed thinkers, writers, athletes, politicians, entertainers, business people, leaders, scientists, and fellow journalists. It was broadcast on PBS from 1991 to 2017, only coming to an end when Rose was accused of sexual harassment. The show was then replaced by one hosted by Christiane Amanpour. Transcripts of the show were made available online after broadcast, and in fact many of them still are.

Florida People and Anita Bryant

RICHARD: Oh, I always start my breakfast off with half a grapefruit.
LORELAI: Hm, do the Florida people know about you? Because Anita Bryant left this huge gap that has yet to be filled.

Anita Bryant (born 1940), previously mentioned. Singer who had a string of hits in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and was Miss Oklahoma 1958.

In 1969, she was chosen as the ambassador for the Florida Citrus Commission, with commercials featuring her singing Come to the Florida Sunshine Tree, and saying the tagline, “Breakfast without orange juice is like a day without sunshine”.

In 1977 she became a controversial figure as an anti-gay rights activist, leading a coalition of conservative Christians who wished anti-discrimination legislation to be repealed. They were successful, but earned the ire of gay-rights activists, who organised a ban against orange juice. She became an object of ridicule, and after her divorce in 1980, the Florida Citrus Commission allowed her contract to lapse. This is the “huge gap” that Lorelai suggests Richard might like to fill. It also seems to be another comment about censorship.

Clarence Thomas

LORELAI: You’ll say hello, you’ll ask how his wife is, and that’s it. After that, you will say nothing, you will do nothing, you will sit in the corner and offer no opinions and pull a full-on Clarence Thomas, am I making myself perfectly clear?

Clarence Thomas (born 1948), associate justice of the US Supreme Court since 1991, the longest-serving member of the court to this date, and often cited as the most conservative.

At the time of his confirmation hearings that would see him confirmed for the Supreme Court position, Thomas was already reticent on answering questions from senators about his philosophical stance, in the belief that his conservative views could see him rejected.

However, he refused to answer any questions as his final approval was being debated, when a woman named Anita Hill accused him of sexual harassment involving making sexual comments to her. Hill was questioned aggressively, and Thomas defended his right to privacy. He said that they were turning his appointment into a circus, and he refused to participate in what he saw as a racist exercise. He was voted in a week later.

I think this is what Lorelai is referring to, telling Emily to keep her mouth as tightly shut as Clarence Thomas during his confirmation hearings.

Woody and Soon-Yi

RORY: I thought maybe a certain depressed man and his wife could stay there.
LORELAI: Woody and Soon-Yi?

Woody Allen (born Allan Konigsberg in 1935), multi award-winning actor and film director, famous for films such as Annie Hall (1977), Manhattan (1979), Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), and Crimes and Misdemeanours (1989). When acting a role in a comedy film, he often played a depressed, anxious, or neurotic character.

Allen had been in a long-term relationship with Mia Farrow since 1979 when, in 1991 or 1992, he embarked on an affair with Farrow’s adopted daughter from a previous marriage, Soon-Yi Previn (born circa 1970), then a college student. There was an immediate scandal when the affair became public knowledge – not only because of the age gap, but due to the perceived familial relationship. Allen denied being Soon-Yi’s stepfather, or being a father figure to her, although he did describe his role in their romantic relationship as “paternal”.

Allen and Previn married in 1997, and have since adopted two children. Woody Allen has continued making films, although his career did founder in the early 2000s – when this episode aired, his most recent offering was the costly failure, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001). However, he went on to make successful films set in Europe later that decade. Recently he has gained acclaim for films such as Blue Jasmine (2013) and Cafe Society (2018), and is regarded as a cinematic genius.

Tammy Faye Bakker

RORY (looking at photo of Sherrie): Nice looking lady.
LORELAI: Mm hmm. Like a young Tammy Faye Bakker.
RORY: But prettier than that.

Tammy Faye Bakker, born Tamara LaValley (1942-2007) was the ex-wife of television evangelist Jim Bakker (born 1940). She and her husband ran a televangelist program called the PTL Club, founded in 1974; it was dissolved in 1989 when Jim Bakker was convicted and imprisoned on indicted on numerous counts of fraud and conspiracy. Tammy Faye divorced Jim in 1992, and married Roe Messner, a church building contractor (so by this stage she was actually Tammy Faye Messner).

Tammy Faye was known for her eccentric and glamorous image, and her views which often diverged from mainstream evangelical Christianity. For example, she supported the LGBT community, and reached out to HIV positive patients at the height of the AIDS epidemic. She was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1996, so was already terminally ill when this episode aired.

Anne Heche

SOOKIE: We are crazy for doing this.
LORELAI: We’re beyond crazy. We are ‘Anne Heche speaking her secret language to God and looking for the spaceship in Fresno’ crazy.
SOOKIE: Oh Quiness, Nakka dune notta.

LORELAI: Il el nostra doska don.

Anne Heche (born 1969), actress, director, and screenwriter. First became known as a soap opera actress, before gaining mainstream recognition in the late 1990s in films such as Donnie Brasco (1997) and Six Days, Seven Nights (1998). She was also famous for her high-profile three-year relationship with comedian Ellen De Generes, who came out to the press shortly after she and Anne began dating.

On August 19 2000, the day after her relationship with Ellen ended, Anne drove from Los Angeles to Cantua Creek, near Fresno, parking her vehicle on a roadside. She walked for more than a mile through the desert wearing shorts and a bra before knocking on a stranger’s door and asking for a shower. As she seemed reluctant to leave, the homeowner called the sheriff’s department. When deputies arrived, Heche told them that she was God, and would take everyone up to Heaven in a spaceship (she later said she had taken ecstasy). She was admitted to a psychiatric unit in Fresno, and released after a few hours.

While promoting her 2001 memoir, Call Me Crazy, Anne told interviewers that she had been mentally ill for the first thirty-one years of her life due to horrific sexual abuse by her father (a closeted gay man who died of AIDS when Anne was thirteen), which began when she was only a baby. Her surviving family strongly reject those claims, although even without that, her childhood doesn’t sound like a picnic.

Anne said that she created a fantasy world called The Fourth Dimension and had an alter ego named Celestia who was the daughter and reincarnation of God, spoke her own language, had special powers, and was in contact with extraterrestrials. It seems likely Lorelai read Call Me Crazy, as it is the sort of camp celebrity memoir she could not resist (like Mommie Dearest and Tears and Laughter), although all the information could be gleaned from the press at the time.

Anne Heche stated that she had no further mental health issues after the episode at Cantua Creek, and she has gone on to have a successful career in film and television.

Sookie’s statement means, “Oh God, I cannot do this” in Anne Heche’s invented language. Lorelai replies, “It’s too scary for me now”, in the same language. Anne said this when she believed God wanted her to heal a friend’s injured ankle, however she says she did go on to heal her friend through laying on of hands. Anne shared this information, including the example of her language, with Barbara Walters on 20/20 in early September 2001.

Like Lorelai and Sookie, and many others at the time, Amy Sherman-Palladino mocked Anne Heche mercilessly after going public. Their tone was completely mainstream for the time.

Jerry Lee Lewis

LORELAI: I go on one stupid date, and suddenly I’m the female Jerry Lee Lewis.

Jerry Lee Lewis (born 1935), wild man pioneer of rock and roll and rockabilly music who shot to fame in 1957 with his worldwide hit, Whole Lotta Shaking Going On, followed by other hits such as Great Balls of Fire. His career was struck by international scandal when he married his thirteen-year-old cousin once removed, Myra Gale Brown, despite still being married to his first wife. After his divorce went through, he and Myra remarried (or … married?) in 1958. Myra filed for divorce in 1970, saying she had been subjected to every form of abuse imaginable.

Lewis has had a career spanning decades of success. His 2006 album Last Man Standing is his best-selling to date, he has a dozen gold records in both rock and country music, four Grammy Awards including a Lifetime Achievement Award and a Hall of Fame Award. He’s been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, and the Memphis Hall of Fame. A film about him was made in 1989 starring Dennis Quaid (based on a book written by Myra), and he is considered one of the greatest musical artists of all time.

Anna Nicole Smith and Mary Kay Letourneau

(Older man walks by.)
RORY: Why?
LORELAI: Because I’m not Anna Nicole Smith. Next.
RORY: Two.
(Teenage boy on a skateboard goes by.)
LORELAI: Hmm, pass.
RORY: Why?
LORELAI: Because I’m not Mary Kay Letourneau.

Anna Nicole Smith, born Vickie Lynne Hogan (1967-2007) [pictured] was an American model and actress who first gained fame as a Playboy model, winning Playmate of the Year in 1992. She was perhaps best known for her 1994 marriage to J. Howard Marshall, an 89-year-old petroleum tycoon she had met while working at a strip club. It was speculated that she had married him for his money because of the age difference. Marshall died the following year, and there was a protracted legal case over his will; during it, Smith herself died, gaining no money from his estate.

Mary Kay Letourneau (born Mary Katherine Schmitz in 1962) is an American former schoolteacher who in 1997 pleaded guilty to raping a child, her twelve-year-old student Vili Fualaau, to whose baby she gave birth while awaiting sentencing. Due to a plea agreement, she was sentenced to three months in prison, and was not allowed contact with Fualaau for life. She broke the no-contact order soon after being released from prison, and was imprisoned again, this time for seven years, giving birth to another child in prison. After Letourneau was released in 2004, Vili Fualaau, now an adult, asked that the no-contact order be revoked, and they married in 2005. They legally separated in 2017, although they apparently still live together and are still in a relationship.

Michael Douglas

LORELAI: Okay, so now the fact that I suggested painting Luke’s diner also means that I wanted to get him in bed. All of a sudden I’m trying to get any poor, unsuspecting person in bed with me. I’m like – I’m Michael Douglas!

Michael Douglas (born 1944) is a multi award-winning American actor and producer, with a long career in theatre, film, and television. He is married to Catherine Zeta-Jones, earlier discussed as one of the “pretty women” that Lorelai wonders if Luke’s ex-girlfriend Rachel resembles.

In 1993 it was widely reported that Michael Douglas was a sex addict and had entered rehab to be treated for his addiction (leading to much mockery). He refuted these claims, saying that he had gone into rehab to be treated for alcohol addiction, but the rumours persist – they were even published again in his 2012 biography by Marc Eliot, Michael Douglas: A Biography.

Diagnosed with cancer in 2010, Douglas told the public he had throat cancer caused by giving cunnilingus to many women, which did nothing to calm down the sex addiction rumours. In 2013 Douglas revealed he had actually had tongue cancer, and denied that there was any link with performing oral sex.

In January 2018, journalist Susan Braudy went public with claims that she had been sexually harassed by Michael Douglas in 1989 while working for him, including that he used inappropriate sexual language, and masturbated to orgasm in front of her. Douglas denies the allegations, although Braudy has shared corroborating evidence with the press. This has reignited the “sex addiction” rumours all over again.

Lorelai seems to have the common belief that people with “sex addiction” must be constantly trying to get random people to have intercourse with them, although such behaviour is probably rarer in real life than people think.

(Note: “Sex addiction” has not been accepted as a diagnosis by any mainstream psychological or psychiatric body, but there are support groups and treatment programs for it).