Roger Sterling's father

 Posted by on April 15, 2008 at 11:09 am  Characters
Apr 152008

There’s a discussion going on at the IMDb Mad Men board about the name Sterling Cooper. Shouldn’t it be Cooper Sterling, Asks one person, since Cooper is the senior partner? Yes, says another, except that Roger Sterling’s father is the original Sterling and founded the company with Bert Cooper. And yes, says a third person, that’s right, it was founded by Sterling’s father.


I’d never noticed this on the show (although apparently Roberta had). The AMC site has nothing official about this. Their character sketches don’t give any back story that isn’t culled directly from aired episodes, and doesn’t say anything about this. The AMC Mad Men blog (not as good as ours) refers to this idea as a “conspiracy theory.” (Which, excuse me? Is obnoxious and stupid. There’s nothing conspiratorial about wondering about the founding of Sterling Cooper.)

Anyway, the “conspiracy theorist” remarks that Cooper has a framed picture of a young Roger with a man who is presumably Roger’s father. Roberta pointed out to me that Cooper calls Roger “Peanut,” and looks at that picture and says something like “You were so cute back then.”

It’s a whole new area of character exploration and back story that Season 2 might get into; the founding of Sterling Cooper and the influence of Roger’s father. I wonder if they plan on getting more explicit in that direction. It explains a lot about Roger (which I’ll get into in the near future).



  18 Responses to “Roger Sterling's father”

  1. I wondered about the name order, too, until I read in some article or interview (of Matt Weiner, I guess, or maybe Robert Morse) that the original partners were Bert Cooper and Roger’s father.

    I must have read the interview here, or you must at least have had the link here. This blog is my sole source for Mad Men information. So it must be back there somewhere.

  2. I read it somewhere, too, but not sure it was canon. It did make me smirk when Roger talked about his name being on the building, because that probably has little to do with Roger.

  3. It came up on the AMC show blog some time during the season … Roger’s father was Cooper’s original partner.

    Makes the portrayal by Jon Slattery that much more interesting, this entitled kid who may have felt the firm is his birthright.

    Roger’s not an obnoxious type of guy in that way, but he has the “I’ve-got-it-all-figured-out” style down pat.

    I only recall him talking about his father once, in RITF when he recounts the war story about how his dad and his generation (WWI) had to be prepared to kill using bayonets. Tells you something, though not everything.

  4. It might also be further clarified in one of them “deleted scenes”.

  5. If it was on the AMC show blog, it’s absolutely egregious for them to refer to a commenter asking about it as having a “conspiracy theory.” That’s major AMC suckage.

  6. Hey, I’m being quoted on the masthead! Yay, me!

    *very flattered*

  7. hahaha I was that “third” person 🙂

    But yeah I do remember reading somewhere that Sterling’s father had been Bert Cooper’s original partner.

  8. I thought that might be you.

  9. I think it speaks volumes about Roger’s character, and I love the subtle clues that we got from the show along the way as mentioned above. Oh, I just can’t wait to find out where these characters are going…

  10. Keep in mind that when we are first introduced to Roger and Bert’s familial relationship, the parentage of Pete Campbell is brought up as a point against firing him–seems like nepotism at SC is part of the wheels and gears that keeps New York going!

  11. Max, you are so good.

  12. Yes, dans, I’m sure I read it on the original AMC blog, too. For some reason, I also thought they explained the relationship on the show. Maybe it was just an assumption? I thought I read (or heard) that Sterling’s father died when he was young, and Cooper made sure that he was taken care of, blah, blah, blah. But I could be wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time…

    I do believe that a lot of Roger’s stories of his youth are exaggerations. Like when Joan calls him to task about working summers on a merchant ship. Joan says she believes it was probably a yacht. Makes me wonder about his “combat” experience, too. I’ve heard that veterans who’ve seen actual combat duty are reluctant to discuss their experiences, whereas the people who may have been in the service but not in a combat zone love to regale people with their war stories. Based on people I know who are veterans, this is absolutely true. My father and uncles who served in WWII, the Korean War, and Vietnam say nothing of their military experience. The relatives who served in Japan and Germany in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, though, have stories for everything. I wonder if this is the case with Roger, as well?

  13. Maybe. But I do have a feeling that it was harder to get out of real fighting during WWII simply bc the need for men was that strong. Unless, of course, Roger had a bona fide health problem. But I wouldn’t know either way. Maybe someone do the research?

  14. Research? Are you kidding?

  15. Actually, that’s colloquial, and I find that colloquial information is hard to research. But I bet a book like The Greatest Generation would have stuff on it.

    Thing is, important people weren’t trying to get their kids out of combat in those days. It was considered unseemly. Using privilege to stay out of combat is largely a product of the Vietnam War.

    Indeed, in Vietnam it was largely urban blacks who were killed and wounded, while blacks in WWII had a hard time getting real combat duty (and acknowledgement for it), getting stuck in kitchen and janitorial type positions (for “morale” of course). Bigotry kept blacks segrated, and regarded them as less honorable. The notion that service is by and for the honorable had degraded in Vietnam.

    What I actually don’t know is where Korea stood in this.

  16. Frankly I really thought it had more to do with the writer’s preference and Antony Price and a label he worked under in 1967 Stirling Cooper

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