Popular Culture References to William and Mary

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This is a draft list of books, television, and other mediums to make reference to the College of William and Mary either as characters' backstories or in setting the tales at the university.


  • 1964 The musical variety television series "Hootenanny" filmed an episode on campus in Blow Gym on February 4, 1964. (See the Flat Hat, Alumni Gazette, and Class History for articles about the episode.)
  • 1975 The Bob Newhart Show, "Over the River and Through the Woods", Season 4, Episode 83. The Dr. Jerry Robinson character wears a William & Mary sweater during the Thanksgiving episode in which the characters watch the university's football team suffer a defeat.
  • 1978 "Perry Como's Early American Christmas" was filmed on campus.
  • 2001-2010 NBC's "Scrubs" was created by William & Mary alumis Bill Lawrence '90 and one of the main characters was based on one of Bill's roommates. The show's lead characters are William & Mary alumnis.
  • 2005 One of the popular "American Girl" series, starring a young woman named Felicity, is based in Williamsburg in 1774. Felicity wants to go to college at William & Mary.[1]
  • 2006 In the last season of NBC's West Wing, the Alan Alda character is discussing with staff employment options following his loss in the presidential election. One that is offered are visiting professorships at a number of universities, including William & Mary.[2]
  • 2007 "John Adams," a television mini-series released in 2008, was partially filmed on campus.
  • 2007-2009 The lead character for "Dirty, Sexy, Money" was a graduate of William & Mary Law School. He was sent a mock diploma for the set.[3]
  • 2010 In Episode 1.5, "Reality Bites Me," there is a reference to Hanna's father's fiancée being a William & Mary honors graduate who likes to golf.[4]


  • 1923 "America" was partially filmed on campus; see the scrapbooks of Mildred Barksdale and Leah James.
  • 1940 "The Howards of Virginia" was partially filmed on campus; see "Activities and Meetings on Campus--Movie Made on Campus (1940)--"The Howards of Virginia"".
  • 1979 "The Henderson Monster" was partially filmed on campus; see "Activities and Meetings on Campus--Movie Made on Campus (1979)--"The Henderson Monster"".
  • 1981 "The Manions of America" was partially filmed on campus; television movie; the Wren Building stood in for buildings in Philadelphia.
  • 1995 "Creature from Crim Dell," by Lee Sullivan, student 1994/1995; see the University Archives Audiovisual Collection.
  • 1996 "Gospel of Liberty" was partially filmed on campus.
  • 2007 "John Adams" was partially filmed on campus; television mini-series, released in 2008.
  • 2008 In the movie "Nims Island" Jodie Foster wore a W&M T-shirt in one of the scenes. It is uncertain if the character was connected to the university.
  • 2010 “Alone Yet Not Alone,” a "family feature film set during the French and Indian War"[5], was partially filmed on campus.
  • 2012 In "John Carter," "the title character's nephew, Edgar Rice "Ned" Burroughs, is attending the William & Mary when he is sent a telegram to return to his uncle's home in New York."[6]


  • 1973 Steely Dan's lyrics to "My Old School" includes the line "Oh, no, William & Mary won't do." According to an Alumni Association article, the student paper the Flat Hat looked into this in the early 1980s. The bands writer apparently did not have a connection to the College and selected the College's name because it fit the cadence of the song.
  • 1994 country musician Davis Daniel released a song called "William and Mary", which "tells the story of a boy and girl who grow up together on ``the same side of the track, then go their separate ways. While he heads for the honky tonk life, she goes to William and Mary and ends up with a telephone and fax machine in her car and a taste for opera and Broadway nights. The song was written by Rick Williamson and George McCorkle."[7] The chorus included the line “She went to William and Mary, I went to Haggard and Jones.”
  • Video for "The Valley Road" by Bruce Hornsby and the Range (1988) was filmed in Williamsburg and surrounding area and includes the band performing in Blow Gym (before it was converted to office and classroom space). Other campus scenes and people include the exterior of the Wren Building, football players, the women's lacrosse team, William & Mary Police Department officers (one identified as Officer Pedro Jones), various students dancing, including Patton Oswalt in a group shot clapping and duckwalking at 4:08). (Thanks to Patrick McQuillan for providing some of the identifications.)
  • 1999 I Was performed by Neal McCoy, from his The Life of the Party album. Lyrics written by Charlie Black and Phil Vassar. "Told me she was twenty-two -- And she'd just broken out of William and Mary."
  • 2017 Bats performed and created by Tori Amos, from her Native Invader album. "Got a bat visiting --

On a break from teaching -- At William and Mary."

Novels, short stories, etc.

  • 1946 Bitsy Finds the Clue: a Mystery of Williamsburg, Old and New, Augusta Huiell Seaman, Doubleday & Company, Inc.
  • 1964 Wayah of the Real People, William O. Steele (Author), Isa Barnett (Illustrator), Holt Rinehart Winston; 1st edition.
  • 1980 Randall Wallace (author of Braveheart) wrote a novel called Love and Honor whose main character went to William & Mary. Book is set in the late 18th century.
  • 1991 The American Girl character Felicity lives in Williamsburg and wished to attend William & Mary. [8].
  • 2002 The main character of Rita Mae Brown's book Alma Mater is in her senior year at William & Mary.
  • 2003 A character in The Known World by Edward P. Jones was a lawyer who attended William & Mary.
  • 2007 Exiles in America: A Novel by Christopher Bram a 1974 William & Mary graduate.
  • 2010 The main character of Tom Baker's book The Sound of One Horse Dancing is a William & Mary alumnus and the book includes reminiscences about his undergraduate years during the presidencies of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.
  • 2013 The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks [9]. The elderly widower character attended William & Mary before World War II.
  • 2000 House of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski, Pantheon/Random House. The novel mentions a "short interview conducted by a college journalist from William and Mary."

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Questions? Contact the Special Collections Research Center at spcoll@wm.edu or 757-221-3090, or visit the Special Collections Research Center in the Earl Gregg Swem Library at William & Mary.

A Note About The Contents Of This Wiki
The information available in this wiki is the best available from known documents and sources at the time it was written. Unfortunately, many of the early original records of William & Mary were destroyed by fires, military occupation, and the normal effects of time. Information in this wiki is not complete as new information continues to be uncovered in Swem Library's Special Collections Research Center and elsewhere. Researchers are strongly encouraged to use the Special Collections search tools for their research as the information contained in this wiki is by no means comprehensive.