Roller derby in popular cultureEdit

Roller derby has been the subject of film, television, and literature, in fictional and nonfictional contexts. It has also been a subject in music lyrics.

Film and televisionEdit


  • In 1949, Roller Derby Girl, a 10-minute short film produced and directed by Justin Herman was released as part of Paramount's Pacemaker series. It was nominated for, but did not win, an Academy Award in 1950.
  • In 1971, the documentary film Derby (titled Roller Derby in the United Kingdom) was released. Directed by Robert Kaylor, the film follows skater Mike Snell as he becomes immersed in the world of 1970s professional Roller Derby, and provides competition footage as well as a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of several Roller Derby pros.
  • In 1986, the 57-minute documentary Roller Derby Mania was released direct to video (NTSC VHS) in North America. It features the L.A. T-Birds Roller Games team, as well as classic Roller Derby footage. A Region 1 DVD edition was released in 2003.
  • In 1991, the 30-minute documentary Roller Derby Wars was released direct to video (NTSC VHS) in North America. It was released on video in the UK in 1993 (PAL VHS).
  • In 2001, Demon Of The Derby, a biographical documentary about aging roller derby star Ann Calvello, was released.
  • In 2004, the 32nd episode of the sports documentary series "Woodie's World" aired on ESPN and contained a segment on a 1971 roller derby revival.
  • In 2005, the 9th episode of the sports documentary series "Timeless" aired on ESPN and spotlighted the LA Derby Dolls.
  • Jam, a film about the lives of derby skaters and promoters, premiered in 2006. The film won best documentary at the South by Southwest film festival. A Jam trailer was made available on the Film Threat web site.
  • Hell On Wheels, a documentary about the creation of the all-female roller derby league in Austin, Texas in 2001 that sparked the modern derby revival premiered in March 2007 at the South by Southwest Film Festival.
  • In 2007 and 2008, several league-specific documentaries premiered (or were scheduled to), including Talk Derby To Me[1], Blood on the Flat Track: The Rise of the Rat City Rollergirls[2], and The Dames: The Story of the Boston Roller Derby League.[3][4]
  • In 2008, ESPN SportsCenter aired and published on the Internet Roller Derby Revival, a short feature about the current roller derby revival.


  • In 1950, Twentieth Century Fox released The Fireball, a fictional film starring Mickey Rooney as a boy who runs away to join the International Roller Speedway and falls in love. This is one of Marilyn Monroe's first films.
  • In 1972, Raquel Welch starred in Kansas City Bomber, a fictional film about a female roller derby player who learns to take control of her life both on and off the track.
  • An exploitation film entitled Unholy Rollers: The Leader of the Pack was also released in 1972. Written and directed by Vernon Zimmerman, the movie stars Claudia Jennings as a factory worker who quits her job to join the roller derby.
  • In September 1973, "Bailey's Comets", an animated series from DePatie/Freling Studios debuted on CBS. It was about the Comets, a 6 member (3 male, 3 female) roller derby team involved in an international race against other, rather bizarre teams for a $1 million cash prize.
  • In 1975, Rollerball was released. The fictional film, set in a dystopian future, is loosely based on the Roller Derby concept, and concentrates on social and political issues. Several skaters from the original Roller Derby have cameo/stunt scenes in the film. It was remade in 2002.
  • In 1978, NBC produced a short-lived TV sitcom called The Roller Girls which featured the exploits of a fictional all-female roller games team, the Pittsburgh Pitts.
  • In 2005, Variety reported that Paramount purchased a comedy pitch for a film about women's roller derby, and set it up for development with former Paramount president Tom Jacobson and MTV Films.[5]
  • In 2007 "Roller Derby - A Rocking Rolling Musical" was produced at the New York Musical Theatre Festival.
  • In 2008, Whip It!, a feature film directed by Drew Barrymore, starring Ellen Page, and written by L.A. Derby Doll and Derby Girl author Shauna Cross, began production.[6][7][8][9][10][11]
  • Roller derby was incorporated into the plot of the 27th episode of "The Untouchables" in 1960, the 14th episode of the animated TV series "The Addams Family" in 1973, the Disney theatrical film The Shaggy D.A. in 1976, the 12th episode of the TV series "Charlie's Angels" in 1976, the 87th episode of the TV series "The Six Million Dollar Man" in 1977, an episode of the TV series "Laverne & Shirley", the 22nd and 117th episodes of the TV series "Fantasy Island" in 1978 and 1982, the 10th episode of the TV series "Room for Two" in 1982, the 31st episode of "The Fall Guy" in 1982, the 45th episode of the TV series "It's a Living" in 1986, the 30th and 49th episodes of the TV series "Clarissa Explains It All" in 1992 and 1993, the 17th episode of the animated TV series "George and Martha" in 2000, the 181st episode of the "King of the Hill" animated TV series in 2005, an episode of the TV series "CSI: NY" in 2005, the 3rd episode of the TV series "The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman" in 2006, the 32nd episode of the TV series "Family Business" in 2006, the 38th episode of the TV series "Psych" in 2008, and the 14th episode of the U.S. version of the TV series "Kath & Kim" in 2009.[12]


  • In the early 1970s, a roller derby participant was depicted in the children's program ZOOM, in a segment called "As the World Zooms." This was a main character of the segment who continued through the entire run of that incarnation of the program.
  • In 1999, roller derby players were guests on the 62nd episode of "The Martin Short Show".
  • In 2004, roller derby players were featured in episode 8 of the trading-places-themed reality TV series "Switched Up!".
  • In 2005, roller derby players were featured in episode 25 of the trading-places-themed reality TV series "Average Joe".
  • On January 2, 2006, the A&E Network premiered "Rollergirls", a reality TV show consisting of 13 one-hour episodes featuring the Lonestar Rollergirls, a banked track league. Another season was planned, but the show was canceled and its final three episodes were aired on April 2, 2006.[13][14]
  • In 2006, members of the L.A. Derby Dolls appeared in a roller derby-themed stunt on the comedic stunt show "Wildboyz" on MTV2, in a roller derby-themed challenge on the reality TV dating show "Next" on MTV, and in a roller derby feature in the first episode of "Sucks Less with Kevin Smith" on mtvU.
  • In 2006 and 2007, members of roller derby leagues appeared in a roller derby-themed TV commercial for Right Guard deodorant and another for Aleve pain reliever.
  • In 2007, members of the L.A. Derby Dolls appeared in a roller derby-themed challenge on the reality TV show "The Biggest Loser" on NBC; and two episodes of the reality TV show "Trading Spaces" featured members of roller derby leagues.[15]
  • In 2008, members of the L.A. Derby Dolls appeared in roller derby-themed challenges on the reality TV dating shows "Rock of Love 2 with Bret Michaels" on VH1 and "Date My Mom" on MTV.
  • In 2011, an episode of CMT's "Made" featured a member of the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls training someone new to the sport.[16]



  • Michelson, Herb. A Very Simple Game: the Story of Roller Derby. 1971.
  • Deford, Frank. Five Strides on the Banked Track: The Life and Times of the Roller Derby. Little, Brown and Company, 1971. ISBN 0-316-17920-5.
  • Coppage, Keith. Roller Derby to Rollerjam: The Authorized Story of an Unauthorized Sport. Santa Rosa, California: Squarebooks, 1999. ISBN 0-916290-80-8.
  • Fitzpatrick, Jim. Roller Derby Classics… and more!. Foreword by Ann Calvello. Trafford Publishing, 2005. ISBN 1-4120-6678-6.
  • Joulwan, Melissa. Rollergirl: Totally True Tales from the Track. Touchstone (Simon & Schuster), February 2007. ISBN 978-0743297158.
  • Mabe, Catherine. Roller Derby: The History and All-Girl Revival of the Greatest Sport on Wheels. Speck Press, 2007. ISBN 1-933108-11-8.


  • Patten, Tim. (as Bordner, D. M.) Roller Babes: The Story of the Roller Derby Queen. iUniverse, Inc, 2006. ISBN 0-595-67544-1.
  • Cross, Shauna. Derby Girl. Henry Holt and Co., 2007. ISBN 978-0805080230.


  • In 1950, "At The Roller Derby" was released on RCA Victor. It was a song written by Leonard Whitcup, and performed by Dick Liebert "at the Hammond Organ", with a vocal refrain by The Three Beaus and A Peep.
  • In the early 1970s, Helen Wheels released the country music single "Here Comes The Derby (Official Theme of the Roller Derby)" on the Fillmore label, distributed by Columbia Records.
  • In 1972, Phil Ochs released the single "Kansas City Bomber" on A&M Records. It was written for the movie of the same name, but was not used on the soundtrack by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Ochs had planned to promote the single by premiering the song between periods at a Los Angeles Thunderbirds television taping, but for reasons that are unclear at this late date, Bill Griffiths denied Ochs' request.
  • In 1972, Jim Croce recorded his composition "Roller Derby Queen", in which the narrator explains how he fell in love with a female roller derby star he saw on a barroom television screen. The recording was first issued on his second ABC Records album Life & Times, and was later included on the posthumous 1974 anthology Photographs & Memories: His Greatest Hits. In 1990, a concert performance of the song was released on the album Jim Croce Live: The Final Tour, and a BBC television performance was incorporated into the 2003 DVD Have You Heard: Jim Croce Live; in spoken introductions to these performances, Croce explains the inspiration for the song had been a former Texas Roller Derby skater who had moved to Pennsylvania to marry a State Trooper and began frequenting Croce's Philadelphia-area performances before he became internationally famous.
  • In 1973, Leon Russell released the single "Queen of the Roller Derby".
  • In 1973, the San Francisco rock band Copperhead released the single "Roller Derby Star" on CBS, and a self-titled album on Columbia also featured the song.
  • The New Zealand band The Datsuns featured the Los Angeles Derby Dolls in their video for "Girl's Best Friend" (from their 2004 Outta Sight/Outta Mind CD).
  • The 2005 album LP III by Twin Cities punk rock band The Soviettes contains the song "Roller Girls". It was also released as a 7" single backed with the "Roller Girls MN Party Mix", featuring backing vocals by the Minnesota Rollergirls.
  • In 2005, the 7" single "Roller Derby Lady" was released by Tucson, AZ based band Winelord.
  • In 2006, DaftFilms and New York City punk band SkinKandy released a music video featuring clips of Roller Derby action c.1973.


  1. Premiere date: April 4, 2007 in Denver, Colorado, according to
  2. Seattle International Film Festival premiere date: June 14, 2007, according to
  3. "The Dames" Premieres at CCTV on February 21st. Cambridge Community Television (2008-02-19).
  4. The Dames: The Story of the Boston Roller Derby League (QuickTime video).
  5. McNary, Dave. Roller derby in Par ring: Laffer will revolve around newly reinvigorated sport. Variety. 2005-09-22
  6. WHIP IT. Production Charts (2007-12-09). Retrieved on 2007-12-11.
  7. Sosa, Jorge (2007-12-10). Drew Barrymore wants to 'Whip It'. Hutchison Leader. Retrieved on 2007-12-11.
  8. Siegel, Tatiana (2008-01-15). "Ellen Page to 'Whip It!' for Barrymore", Variety, Reed Business Information. Retrieved on 2008-06-30. 
  9. Goldstein, Gregg & Kit, Borys (2008-06-30). "Cast ready to roll on 'Whip It!'", The Hollywood Reporter, Nielsen Business Media. Retrieved on 2008-06-30. 
  10. Swart, Sharon (2008-06-18). "Shauna Cross", Variety, Reed Business Information. Retrieved on 2008-06-30. 
  11. Serba, John (2008-08-10). "Grand Rapids skaters roll 'em in Drew Barrymore movie "Whip It!"", The Grand Rapids Press, Retrieved on 2008-08-12. 
  12. search for "roller derby". Retrieved on 2009-04-02. (reference for all but The Shaggy D.A., "Laverne and Shirley", and "Kath & Kim",)
  13. Forums - Last three episodes: April 2nd
  15. Trading Spaces on Retrieved on 2008-04-02.
  16. You must specify title = and url = when using {{cite web}}.. Retrieved on 2011-09-08.