Emily Gilmore is portrayed by actress Kelly Bishop. She is the wife of Richard Gilmore and mother of Lorelai Gilmore. In addition, she is the grandmother of Rory Gilmore. The character will return for the Netflix four-episode revival.
Emily went to college at Smith and was a History major. She met Richard at a Yale college party, when he was still engaged to Pennilyn Lott. Emily was the "other woman" until Richard broke it off with his fiance after she "showed up to the party in that blue dress." He proposed to Emily by a bench at Yale University (subsequently replaced by a trash can), they married on June 16, 1964 when Emily was 22. You can estimate that she had Lorelai at 26.
Richard and Emily though, in season 4, were separated after Richard pushed Jason out so he could return to Floyd's company and avoid a lawsuit. For a short time Emily stayed at a hotel however returned to the house with Richard moving to the Pool House. They were shortly reunited when a stray dog showed up and they both helped to care for it until its owners were found. However, this was short lived and Emily attempted to date, going to dinner with another man after asking Lorelai how it "worked". Richard and Emily only truly reunited after he drove into the back of her car at a charity event after seeing her speaking with the man she had been to dinner with. When they returned home they were both obviously unhappy with the situation and Richard moved back into the main house.
Although much of the Gilmore Girls focuses on the relationship between Lorelai and Rory, Lorelai and Emily's fractured relationship forms a strong counterpoint to the generally positive relationship between Lorelai and Rory. In season 5-6 Emily goes against Lorelai's wishes and along with Richard allows Rory to drop out of Yale and gets her "do-over with the daughter [she] always wanted" causing a rift between Lorelai and Emily and Lorelai and Rory.
Emily is a dedicated and committed member of her society lifestyle and of the Daughters of the American Revolution [DAR]. She hosts many events and is instrumental in Rory's involvement in the DAR in Season 6. She has a definite eye for detail and is known for her strict requirements placed on people who provide services to her, (a recurring joke is that there is a new maid every episode) most notable are her interactions with her maids who are always "incompetent". Her history with Maids is a checkered one and includes being sued by a former maid who she had fired for walking too loudly to firing a maid because of Rory's interaction with her. She has had maids from Guatemala, Britain, Ireland, Romania, USA, Portugal, France, Germany and numerous other countries and is constantly criticized for her treatment of them and the expectations she has of them. Though it is mentioned that she pays the best rates.
Although her character provides comic moments, hers is one of the darker characters on the show, being manipulative and vindictive at times. Though this is often not truly the case when it comes to her family. Emily deeply felt the loss of Lorelai and Rory when they left the house a year after Rory was born. Her "manipulations" are often simply an attempt to provide what she believes to be the best for Lorelai, Rory and Richard and to help Lorelai and Christopher be the family "they should be". The hurt she has felt over the years from missing out on this life is obvious, especially when she learns that Lorelai had broken her leg or when she first sees where Rory grew up at the Independence Inn.
She has reached out to Lorelai numerous times over the years and holds people at arms length as much as her daughter does. When Jason decides on Atlantic City instead of a "stuffy old cocktail party" telling Emily she could "relax and hang out" her conversation with Lorelai was heartfelt and honest, leaving herself vulnerable with her daughter for just a moment. She is very loyal and her family is very important, this is evidenced best when coming to the aid of Lorelai when Christopher ambushes Friday night dinner, asking him to leave, and when she discovers that Lorelai has a back spasm she stays with her to make sure she is looked after.
She is at home in high society, and hosts functions related to Richard's business and her charity work on a weekly basis, and is, of course, very finicky about all of the details. She is a person of taste and appreciates fine things. Both she and Richard are well-traveled and have visited Europe many times. This traveling was shared with Rory at the beginning of season 5 when they traveled Europe together. Outside this world of fancy and niceties, she appears incapable of dealing with her emotions constructively, not wanting to become vulnerable and at times seeming uncompassionate.
She is often a misunderstood character with some wanting only to see the negative due to her treatment of Lorelai, though in truth they are much more alike than either of them would ever admit. As far as their relationship goes in comparison to Lorelai's relationship with Rory, Lorelai and Emily are "mother and daughter always" while she and Rory are "best friends first, mother and daughter second."
- She's part of a book club. One of their books was about a prostitute who rose through the ranks of Victorian society.
- She takes a water aerobics class, which Richard wanted to join when he retired for the first time.
- Shopping is one of her pastimes, and she is on very good terms with a Bloomingfield's-esque department store.
- Pennilyn Lott is not someone she's on friendly terms with; this is due to the fact that Pennilyn was once engaged to her husband.
- Emily found her mother-in-law insufferable, something that made Lorelai grin with glee.
- Mental illness may or may not run in her family; Richard claimed it was catching up with her, but she retorted that her mentally ill aunt was just athletic.
- As a teen, she traveled to Paris and stayed in the Ritz-Carlton.
- Emily is at least conversational in French (as evidenced by her conversations with Michel) and Italian (shown when she travels through Europe with Rory).
- She wishes she was as close with Lorelai as Lorelai is with Rory. Also, she admires the way Lorelai is in control of her life.
- According to Richard, she wore an overcoat when they went skinny dipping.
- She was on the field hockey team at college.
- She is Protestant. If they've stayed in Connecticut since their ancestors arrived, they are either Lutheran, Congregationalist, or Anglican.
- She has a sister, Hope, who lives in France.
- Together with Richard she bought an annex where they can store the bodies of loved ones once room runs out in the family crypt.
- When she was separated from Richard, she bought a panic room. The code for it was 11111; she was never shown how to change the code and thus kept the factory code.
- Part of her deal with Lorelai was a weekly dinner and an accompaning phone call; however, it seems that only the dinner was kept.
- She took care of Lorelai when she suffered from back spasms; she even tried to make her eat was she thought was a childhood favorite, mashed banana on toast.
- She went through 22 hours of labor before giving birth to Lorelai.
- Emily is friends with Headmaster Charleston's wife Bitty, as they are on the symphony board together.
- When she was 12 she decided her wedding bouquet would be lillies and orchids tied together with a silver bow.
- She keeps her wedding dress in the attic, and offered to save it for Rory.
- She wears St. John Knit in most of the episodes she is in.
- Her friends call her Em.
- She is on the board of multiple charitable organizations, including the Starlight Foundation, the Hartford Symphony, and the Daughters of the Revolution. Half of the organizations she chairs.
- She writes notes on her vanity mirrors to remind herself of her errands for the day.