A good week for Prince Aly Khan

 Posted by on May 25, 2012 at 12:35 pm  Season 5
May 252012

One of the true pleasures of Mad Men – for those who enjoy such pursuits – is the casual treasure of cultural nuggets strewn across each script.

– Freddy Rumsen talking about Mickey Mantle’s stolen glove in Babylon (May 1960)

– Roger making a tasteless joke about Rietta Wallenda’s gruesome death in Love Among the Ruins (April 1963)

– The party goers gossiping about Nelson and Happy Rockefeller in My Old Kentucky Home (May 1963)

– Peggy and Joey’s “John and Marsha” parody in Public Relations

Dr. Lyle Evans’s mention in The Chrysanthemum and the Sword (March 1965)

The list is nearly endless, and sends some of us scurrying to Wikipedia and other Internet “sources” to be the first to locate the origin of the reference.

Christmas Waltz represents a good week for Aly Khan, the international playboy of the 40’s and 50’s. Two – count ’em, TWO shout-outs from the attentive Don Draper.  Like so many Mad Men allusions, Aly’s time is done by time he gets his cameo … Aly Khan died in 1960 from injuries from a car wreck.

Sort of the “male Paris Hilton” of his time, Aly Khan was the son of the Aga Khan of Yakimour III. The Aga Khan is supposedly descended from the Prophet Muhammad (who presumably wanted a mosque on the moon lol). He dated and married famous Hollywood actresses such as Rita Hayworth, whom he married in 1949; Gene Tierney, to whom he was engaged in 1954; and Kim Novak.

When I first saw the card that came with the flowers, I thought “that’s not Don’s handwriting!” – until I figured out that the notes are typically written by the florist, not the sender (I’m slow, but I get there eventually).

You will note that the florist’s spelling is off, though it’s understandable. Perhaps she was channeling Don’s emotional plea from The Suitcase, suitable here for both Joan and Don in December 1966: “Get up!!!”

Now that’s an echo of both a Muhammad and an Ali.


  11 Responses to “A good week for Prince Aly Khan”

  1. The misspelling is a subtle comment on the shelf-life of that brand of fame. Aly Khan may have been on front pages in the 40’s and 50’s, but by 1966 the florist didn’t even know how to spell his name. Which also makes it a subtle reminder that Don and Joan are already part of a generation that is being displaced.

    • Aaahh, Melville. I love basking in the glow of your brilliance. The Rat Pack set was indeed ossifying by ’66, but I prefer them to the Mod set and dem dere rock n roll fellers that unseated them on throne of Cool.

      • The Rat Pack really were the epitome of cool, weren’t they? I admit to a (somewhat) guilty fascination with the stylings of Steve and Eydie…

        • Why do I also feel a bit embarrassed about liking Steve and Edyie? They are certainly quite talented. This Could Be The Start of Something Big is one of my favorite songs. 🙂

          • <> I THINK EYDIE IS AWESOME!!

            There…I’ve admitted it…my (not really) deep dark secret is out for everyone to read.
            I actually have a few of her albums–love her Spanish stuff!
            I’ll admit to a deep like for vintage Vicki Carr as well.

            Do I get Cool brownie points for knowing who Aly Khan was before this episode?

          • yes! Virtual brownie points awarded.

          • 🙂 to Deborah and Marylou !

            A deep attraction to Rita Hayworth leads to all sorts of knowledge.*

            *One of our cats is named Gilda, and not because of Gilda Radner(altho she was awesome too!).

      • Ossifying? Not the word I would choose…Frank, Dean, Sammy were at the height of their fame and power in terms of pop culture in the mid-sixties. This hurts my heart for I love me some Frankie. Oh, and certain other massively talented bad boys!

        I remember when Khan was killed…I was nine. It was huge news. Or maybe it wasn’t and I was just developing my penchant for retaining riduculous bits of minutiae that allow me to crush certain trivia contests!

        Most of you are probably too young to remember Steve Lawrence in his many appearances in sketches on The Carol Burnett Show. He was very funny.

    • The florist could have been thinking of Muhammad Ali.

    • Smart observation, Mel. You’ve been hitting ’em out of the park lately.

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