Annie Oakley

[Lorelai has entered wearing a leopard print cowboy hat]
RORY: What are you wearing?
LORELAI: Hey, we have already argued about the sweatshirt.
RORY: Yes but we have not argued about the hat.
LORELAI: What hat?
RORY: The one on your head, Annie Oakley.

Annie Oakley (1860-1926) was an American sharpshooter and exhibition shooter who won a shooting match while still a teenager. She later joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and became an international star who performed before royalty and heads of state. While performing, she generally wore a Western-style outfit, including a cowboy hat.

Tall Lorelai

RUNE: That’s Lorelai?
JACKSON: Yes.
RUNE: Did you see how tall she is?

Lauren Graham (Lorelai) is 1.75 m tall (just under 5 foot 7 and a half inches), while Max Perlich (Rune) is 1.62 m tall (around 5 foot 3). There’s a height difference in Lorelai’s favour – somewhat increased by heels – but Rune ridiculously compares her to a basketball player, an East German maid, and a freak of “bearded lady” proportions.

(The East German comment refers to the decades-long systematic doping of East German athletes with steroids and testosterone for the purposes of cheating, leading to some impressively large and strong athletes. The program ended in 1989 with the fall of communism, but unfortunately the men and women involved – some of whom were only eight years old at the time – are still experiencing physical and mental health disorders because of the doping. Lorelai is in the right age bracket to be an East German maid who was doped as an athlete in the 1980s:  picture shows 1980s East German athlete Marita Koch, who holds the world record for the 400 m, partly due to steroid use).

Lorelai rarely has any trouble attracting men, so having a date openly and constantly insult her physical appearance must be a bizarre experience for her.

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.

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.

Rollerblade

RORY: I’d like to do something?
LORELAI: Like Rollerblade?

Rollerblade is a brand of inline roller skates, started in the US in 1982. In the beginning, Rollerblade was the only brand of inline skates that had worldwide distribution, allowing them to grab a huge share of the global market, and gain almost total dominance in North America. The brand name is used as both a noun and a verb. The brand is now owned by Italian company Nordica.