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“… But I Play One on TV”
How well do you know your (fictitious) fellow alumni? Take our quiz and find out.

They don’t come to reunions. They never turn up in the alumni notes. They’re among the select few who’ve never gotten mail from the Alumni Fund. And yet they trumpet their Yale affiliation—even the comics page.

They’re the fake Yalies. No, not real people who pretend they went to Yale, but fake people who did go to Yale—in their creators’ imaginations.

We hope they hold a reunion of their own one day. The Celotex Calhoun College built for the Gilmore Girls soundstage would be a perfect venue. They’re a very well-connected group, so you’ll definitely want to crash the party. We’ve put together the following quiz to help you make small talk with your apparitional fellow alumni.

1. Yale student Rory Gilmore of TV’s Gilmore Girls achieved what coveted campus position?

a. editor of the Yale Daily News
b. member of Skull and Bones
c. captain of the women’s squash team
d. president of the Yale College Council


2. In the recent novel Foul Lines, a street-smart statistics genius and “Will Smith lookalike” named Jamal Kelly leaves Yale to be a PR man for a pro basketball team. What real campus locale is mentioned in the scenes set at Yale?

a. Calhoun College
b. Payne Whitney Gymnasium
c. the Anchor Bar
d. the Elizabethan Club

3. Which fictional Yale tycoon had to work his way through college?

a. Tom Buchanan of The Great Gatsby
b. Adam Carrington of Dynasty
c. C. Montgomery Burns of The Simpsons
d. Sherman McCoy of Bonfire of the Vanities

4. In the 1961 film Splendor in the Grass, Kansas oil scion Bud Stamper (Warren Beatty) is sent to Yale to forget his hometown girlfriend, Deanie (Natalie Wood). With whom does he end up instead?

a. a debutante from Smith
b. a pizza waitress from New Haven
c. a dean’s daughter
d. a sharp-tongued Radcliffe student who works in the library

5. Writer and producer Aaron Sorkin went to Syracuse, but his films and TV shows are populated with Ivy Leaguers. (He once framed an episode of The West Wing around a Whiffenpoofs performance at the White House.) Which two Sorkin characters went to Yale?

a. President Andrew Shepherd (Michael Douglas), The American President
b. White House official Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford), The West Wing
c. late-night sketch comedian Simon Stiles (D. L. Hughley), Studio 60
d. sports producer Jeremy Goodwin (Joshua Malina), Sports Night

6. In the campus classic Stover at Yale by Owen Johnson, Class of 1900, what sartorial faux pas on the part of young Dink Stover is declared “unspeakable” by a classmate?

a. a green shirt
b. unscuffed oxford bucks
c. plaid trousers
d. a dinner jacket in lieu of tails

7. It happens all the time on TV shows with teenaged characters: they finish high school and move on to college—but always somewhere close enough that they can stay in the family home, or take all their high school friends with them. Which of these characters turned down Yale’s offer of admission for someplace closer to home?

a. Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) of Saved by the Bell
b. Topanga Lawrence (Danielle Fishel) of Boy Meets World
c. Andrea Zuckerman (Gabrielle Carteris) of Beverly Hills 90210
d. Alex P. Keaton (Michael J. Fox) of Family Ties

8. For the 2002 Comedy Central movie Porn ’n’ Chicken, based loosely on the supposed X-rated exploits of a Yale secret society, what contemporary Yale administrator (under a slightly disguised name) was the model for the students’ nemesis?

a. Richard Levin (President Rick Lovin)
b. Alison Richard (Provost Alice N. Witcher)
c. Robert F. “Master T” Thompson (Robert “Master J” Johnson)
d. Richard Brodhead (Dean Dick Widehead)

9. The lesbian characters on Showtime’s The L Word include museum curator and Yale graduate Bette Porter. What real-life Yale alumna plays Bette?

a. Sara Gilbert ’97
b. Claire Danes ’03
c. Jennifer Beals ’86
d. Kellie Martin ’01

10. In the 1954 film Sabrina, Linus Larrabee (Humphrey Bogart) was the subject of what prediction by his Yale classmates?

a. most likely to succeed
b. most likely to be the target of an SEC investigation
c. most likely to leave his alma mater fifty million dollars
d. most likely to fall in love with his chauffeur’s daughter


11. In what book (and film) does the following exchange take place about an ill-fated alum?

“He was into that whole Yale thing.”

“What whole Yale thing?”

“Well, he was probably a closet homosexual who did a lot of cocaine. That whole Yale thing.”

a. Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney
b. Slaves of New York by Tama Janowitz
c. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
d. Frank Merriwell at Yale by Burt L. Standish

12. Which film character is an Eli who, when asked “What do you do?”, echoes the sentiments of many a recent graduate by replying “I’m not sure yet, actually”?

a. Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) in Lost in Translation
b. Sam (Natalie Portman) in Garden State
c. Claire (Kirsten Dunst) in Elizabethtown
d. Samantha (Katie Holmes) in First Daughter


13. In the first of the Blackford Oakes spy novels, by William F. ’50, what notable feat does Blackford Oakes ’51 accomplish?

a. He engineers the coup that restores the Shah of Iran to power.
b. He beats Harry Truman at poker.
c. He sleeps with the Queen of England.
d. He leads the Yale crew to victory at New London.

14. What fictional (or at least unsubstantiated) aspect of Yale secret-society life is featured in the 2000 thriller The Skulls?
a. Dueling at a private island retreat
b. Murdering trespassers in the tomb
c. An evil provost who chases a student across campus
d. All of the above


15. How did the protagonist of Joe College, a Yale-centered novel by Tom Perrotta ’83, spend his vacation from New Haven?

a. feuding with mobsters in New Jersey
b. caddying in a Westchester country club
c. selling drugs in Rhode Island
d. dealing blackjack at Foxwoods

16. In 2004, the sports-themed comic strip Gil Thorp featured two football players and best friends who dreamed of going to Yale. But Nick, who is black, was admitted, while Von, who is white, was wait-listed. This caused tension between the friends as Von wondered if race was a factor. How was the situation resolved?

a. Nick turned down Yale, and he and Von went to Harvard together.
b. Von was admitted from the waiting list, and the two became roommates at Yale.
c. Coach Thorp talked the boys into settling their differences in a boxing match.
d. Von sued Yale, becoming a conservative cause célèbre and host of a teen show on Fox News.

17. Which Doonesbury character did not appear in Bull Tales, the original Yale Daily News strips by Garry Trudeau ’70, ’73MFA?

a. B.D.
b. President King
c. “Megaphone Mark” Slackmeyer
d. Zonker Harris


18. In a New Republic cover story last year, Michael Crowley ’94 criticized thriller author Michael Crichton for his arguments that global warming is a hoax. Eight months later, Crichton published the novel Next. One of its minor characters is a journalist named Mick Crowley. What attributes did Crichton give Mick Crowley to make it clear he’s an unsavory type?

a. He is a “wealthy, spoiled Yale graduate.”
b. He committed an unspeakable sexual assault on a two-year-old child.
c. He has a small penis.
d. All of the above.


1: a. She took over at the News after the previous editor, her friend Paris, fell victim to a staff mutiny.

2: c. Authors Jack McCallum and L. Jon Wertheim must have begun and ended their research at the Anchor: Jamal and his roommate live in something called “Prescott Hall.”

3: b. See, he was Blake and Alexis Carrington’s son, but he was kidnapped as a baby and raised on a ranch in Montana. It was only after his hardscrabble upbringing that he learned the truth and returned to claim his birthright. That was just before he had his brother’s office painted with toxic paint so that he could … oh, never mind.

4: b. He’s never heard of pizza and she’s never heard of Kansas, but Bud seeks solace in the arms of Angelina (Zohra Lambert), whom he marries and brings home after his family fortune is wiped out by the 1929 stock market crash.

5: b and c. Josh Lyman went to the Law School, Simon Stiles to the drama school. Contrary to recent real-world history, Sorkin’s fictional President Shepherd did not go to Yale. And although Sorkin favorite Joshua Malina was in the Yale Class of ’88, his characters have not been identified as Elis.

6: a. Actually, it wasn’t just green, but “the deep royal hue of a glorious emerald.”

7: a, b, and c. Michael J. Fox’s Alex P. Keaton applied to Princeton, not Yale, but went to the fictional Leland University after the Tigers turned him down.

8: d. The fictional Dean Widehead was considerably less popular than Brodhead, though.

9: c. In a nod to Beals’s pre-Yale turn in the movie Flashdance, one L Word episode includes a flashback to Bette’s New Haven days that shows her in Flashdance-style duds.

10: c. Interestingly, the figure was not adjusted for inflation in the 1995 remake, which starred Harrison Ford as Linus.

11: c. Investment banker Paul Allen (presumably not the Microsoft billionaire) is the Yalie in question. He becomes one of the victims of the title character, Patrick Bateman (Harvard ’84).

12: a. Charlotte, not surprisingly, was a philosophy major.

13: c. After bedding the fictional (and single) Queen Caroline in Buckley’s Saving the Queen, Oakes whispers, “Courtesy of the United States, ma’am.”

14: d. Of course, screenwriter John Pogue ’87 may know something we don’t.

15: a. Set during Perrotta’s own undergraduate years, the novel shifts between Yale and the New Jersey hometown of the protagonist, who gets into trouble when racketeers move in on his father’s lunch wagon business.

16: b. But the happy ending came only after Von had his consciousness raised by a racial profiling incident involving his friend.

17: d. Zonker did not join the strip until it became nationally syndicated. Since the characters by then were students at the fictional Walden College, Zonker technically can’t be counted as a Yale alumnus.

18: d. Noting that the character had little or nothing to do with Crichton’s plot, the real Crowley described the fictional "not a character so much as a voodoo doll.”






The Ten Greatest Yalies Who Never Were


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