Cultural References and more


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Okay folks, here it is. Cultural, counter-cultural, celebrity, historical; some geographical. It is wicked incomplete, and challengeable. That’s what email (BasketOfKisses (at) is for. Have at it.

Ep 1:01 Smoke Gets in Your Eyes


Reader’s Digest, which is cited both about the dangers of smoking and about Bambi (the novel)

Enovid (prescribed to Peggy)



My Fair Lady (mentioned by Pete, but then alluded to again with the episode’s closing song, Vic Damone’s version of On the Street Where You Live) (referring to the show, not the movie)

the Danny Thomas Show

Ep 1:02 Ladies Room
The Music Man (Paul calls Ken “Harold Hill”)

People Are Funny (it is mentioned by Midge, and then later it is on TV at the Draper’s)

Niagara Falls for a honeymoon

Shirley Temple Storybook

Paul mentions both Wizard of Oz and Twilight Zone while he gives Peggy a tour of the office.

Toot Shor’s Restaurant and The Four Seasons restaurant

Don compares Midge to Khrushchev banging his shoe

Bert Cooper has his name on a wall at St. Vincent’s Hospital

Jack Kerouac

The Lindbergh baby

Hitler Youth

Don suggests Betty practice driving in the Grand Union parking lot

Bomb shelters and “the bomb”

Who are candidates that might run against Nixon? Roger mentions Kennedy, Symington, and Eleanor Roosevelt.

The (New York) Journal American

Ep 1:03 Marriage of Figaro

In the elevator, a joke about a woman at the “21” Club

The guys tease Pete that his honeymoon story is as tame as Ladies Home Journal

Pete calls Rachel “Molly Goldberg

Harry mentions Batman

Uh… the Marriage of Figaro?

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Elvis Presley returning from the Army

Department stores: Saks, Henry Bendel, Bonwit Teller

A group from work is going to Lansky’s

Life Magazine

Volkswagen “Lemon” ad by Doyle Dane Bernbach

Ep 1:04 New Amsterdam
Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart

Lenny Bruce

Bye Bye Birdie

the Real McCoys

WPA ads


Manhattan locations: The Armory, Walter stays at the St. Regis, The Century Club, Gracie Mansion, Helen’s ex-husband drank at The River Club, Trudy compares their apartment’s sink to The Pierre.

Long Island locations: Fisher’s Island, The Maidstone Club


Ep 1:05 5G

Magazines: Advertising Age, Atlantic Monthly, Life, Town and Country, Reader’s Digest (again), Boy’s Life, the New Yorker, Look Magazine

The 4H

Bix Biderbeck

The Empire State Building

Ep 1:06 Babylon

The Red Balloon (This is open for interpretation/debate. It’s a visual metaphor; never outwardly alluded to. There is a red balloon that the family carries home and into the children’s bedroom at the end of the day.)


The Best of Everything (and the film).

Adolf Eichmann arrested in Argentina

The Pierre (lunch with Rachel)

The Gaslight

Yankee’s locker room broken into, Mickey Mantle’s bat stolen

Fred refers to Peggy as “Pretty, Pretty Peggy Sue”

Joan says “the medium is the message” (an anachronism)

Ep 1:07 Red in the Face

The Naked and the Dead as a pun on Norman Mailer and Mayor Wagner together.

Hitler and Neville Chamberlain in Munich


Jonathan Swift is quoted by Roger Sterling: “He was a bold man that first ate an oyster.”

Ep 1:08 The Hobo Code

Hobo codes!


P. J. Clarkes

Dancing to “The Twist”

The Wizard of Oz
: “I feel like Dorothy, everything just turned to color”

Wall Street Journal

Idyllwild Airport

Robert Mitchum

Miles Davis

42nd Street

Joseph McCarthy

Standing Liberty quarter

One of the beatniks says either “That dead kid in Biloxi,” or “ten dead kids in Biloxi.” This appears to be a reference to either Emmett Till (not Biloxi but Money, MS), killed in 1955, or the Biloxi Beach Riots (1960, but not ten kids).

Bertram Cooper refers to Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand

Ep 1:09 Shoot



There’s a Small Hotel

Pan Am

Three Coins in the Fountain



The Algonquin

Alpha Delta Phi

Psi U

Ep 1:10 Long Weekend


The Apartment

“I feel like I’m stuck somewhere between Doris Day in Pillow Talk and Midnight Lace, when what I need to be is Kim Novak in just about anything.”

The scene of Roger riding Mirabelle like a horse is a take on a similar scene in La Dolce Vita. Matt Weiner suggests that perhaps Roger saw the movie and got the idea from it.

Block Island (Mona’s vacation spot)

Roger suggests the Colony restaurant to Joan, it was known as “the most expensive restaurant in New York.”

Dr. Scholl’s is lost to Leo Burnett, a well-known Chicago agency; when Roger hears, he mocks the city of Chicago.

Pete refers to Peggy as “Howdy Dowdy,” a reference to the Howdy Doody Show, which Pete must have watched as a child; it ran from 1947 to 1960 and so was just cancelled when Pete said this.

Abraham Menken refers to a “Czarist Ministry”

Carol smells Joan and asks if she’s wearing Shalimar

Roger tells Mirabelle, “I want to suck your blood like Dracula”

Ep 1:11 Indian Summer

Pete says that he got the “PER” (later the Relaxiciser) from Compton Advertising, because they’d given Firestone to Compton to resolve Sterling Cooper’s conflict with Goodyear. Compton was founded in 1935 and taken over in 1984.

Ken suggests the PER looks like it’s made from a Lionel transformer, referring to Lionel train sets.

Betty reads Family Circle in bed

The salesman works for Frederick air conditioners

When Joan is putting makeup on Roger, he asks if she’s going to “draw freckles on me like Raggedy Andy.”

During the Lucky Strike meeting, there is discussion of tobacco lawsuits, the Surgeon General’s office, and the possibility of putting a warning on cigarette packages.

Peggy’s date has a sister who is a secretary at Bulova in Flushing.

Don and Betty watch the Danny Thomas show, sponsored by General Foods.

In the Rejuvenator/Relaxiciser meeting, the guys refer to Mitch’s wife as Jayne Mansfield.

A Place In the Sun (Rachel’s sister Barbara refers to a movie where the mistress of the married man gets pregnant and he kills her.)

Bertram Cooper tells Don Draper that he will introduce him to Ayn Rand

Ep 1: 12 Nixon vs. Kennedy

(Paul says, in a discussion about Duck Phillips, Her name was Rosetta. Rosetta Stone. That’s from something, right? I thought Vertigo, but I’m not coming up with anything.)

Highway Patrol (Paul says Peggy resembles Broderick Crawford.)

Harry and Jennifer were going to go see Can-Can.

Ep 1: 13 The Wheel

Tom Vogel, Trudy’s father, mentions a “surge in adolescence.” This is an early reference to the Baby Boom. Today we forget that, although the Boom started right after World War II, it wasn’t a known demographic until it was almost over.

This also ties in with mentioning Clearasil as a potential account, and its parent, the Vicks Chemical Company.

Tom also mentions a theory that ties the winner of a presidential campaign to whomever wins the Cleveland Browns versus Washington Redskins game.

Pete tells Don that Cooper wants him to read Ayn Rand. Of course, Cooper also wanted Don to read Ayn Rand; it’s apparently Cooper’s way of telling someone they’re “in.”

Harry tells Don that he was once fascinated by the cave paintings at Lascaux. It’s possible that Harry actually saw these caves, which were not closed to the public until 1963.

Kodak Carousel Slide Projector, the pivotal metaphorical ad campaign this episode, was introduced in the spring of 1962.

Duck is especially pleased to have gotten the Kodak account away from BBDO. BBDO is a major advertising agency founded in 1928.


  17 Responses to “Cultural References and more”

  1. An interesting cultural reference is the Drapers’ address on Bullet Park Road. As far as I can tell, there is no such road in Ossining, but Bullet Park is a novel by John Cheever set in the Ossining area.

  2. Her name was Rosetta…I think it's a parody; I don't think it's from anything, I think it's Paul playing on the Niagara Falls routine ("Slowly he turned…").

  3. The Rosetta Stone, discovered in the late 18th century, resides at the British Museum and is one of it's most famous artifacts. The stone was created in the second century AD and translated ancient Egyptian languages into Greek. It became the key to the 19th century translations of Egyptian hieroglyphics by the British. The lady that landed Duck in trouble in London worked for the British Museum. Paul loves a pun.

  4. I knew what the Rosetta Stone was, although I didn't pick up the British Museum connection. I am referring to the way that Paul said the line. I'm pretty sure that's Niagara Falls.

  5. What the hell am I thinking of in Vertigo?

  6. @Roberta:

    Mad Men has a lot of indirect references to Vertigo. There's a dream sequence that features a falling man which is very similar to the title sequence of Mad Men. Both feature an illustrator named Midge. They both explore themes of constructed characters, dual identities, and being haunted by one's past. Kim Novak's Judy character worked at Magnin's, while the Rachel Menken character was originally supposed to be Rachel Magnin. And the scene of Don in the restaurant of the Savoy is reminiscent of the scenes at Ernie's Restaurant when Jimmy Stewart's character originally sees "Madelyn," then becomes so obsessed with her that every woman at Ernie's begins to resemble her.

  7. True dat.

    But what is the line from Vertigo that I thought was the Rosetta Stone line? I gotta rent it.

  8. I forgot about Ernie's. Now I have to rent it too.

  9. I don't think Vertigo had a Rosetta Stone line. They did say Carlotta Valdes a lot, though. Carlotta, Rosetta…they sound similar…a little. Okay, I'm stretching.

  10. Vertigo is on next week. I posted. I think cultural history is both culture and history, Coop. Okay, that was stupid, sorry.

  11. THAT'S IT!!!

    Carlotta. They said it a lot.

    wheww. I guess for now I'll leave it up there, in NvK, as it led to all this discussion. someday I'll just change it to the niagra thing and delete all this. all this… evidence that my memory is shot to shit.

  12. Maybe my Ernie's references are off. I mean, physically, the scenes don't resemble each other–Ernie's was dark with richly saturated colors, while the scenes at the Savoy were kind of pale. I just remember Hitchcock filmed Kim Novak's character (and other blondes at the restaurant) as if they were ghosts–all wraithlike and ethereal, floating through the restaurant. In FTWTY, they achieved a similar effect by doing the slow dissolves/zooms as Betty descended the stairs. In both scenes you had these apparitions of womanhood, these projections as envisioned by the male protagonists of the story. But the realities of those women were starkly different from the visions of them. It's why Jimmy Stewart kept trying to reconstruct Kim Novak's Judy character, but no matter what he did, she was never completely "it." I think Don is going through the same thing with Betty–she's never going to be "it," despite the number of furs he gives her.

  13. Look what thus spake drake has:

    But what of the film that Don watches while playing hooky from work? The internetz has been transcribing and discovered that the French narration is in fact a recitation of the François Villon poem "Ballade des Dames du Temps Jadis" (translated as "Ballad of the Ladies of Times Past,") and a quick search shows that the film La Tour de Nesle (1955,) by Abel Gance, uses that poem to end the film. I haven't seen that particularly obscure Gance film to confirm, but the story perhaps has allusions to the Bobbi character, in the depiction of Queen Marguerite of Burgandy as a women who wants to take revenge out on her one night stands, only to have the tables turned on her by Buridan.

  14. Hmm. Interesting about Queen Marguerite of Burgundy and her wanting to take revenge against her one night stands. I was thinking Bobbie reminded me of Alex in Fatal Attraction, and we know what happened there. She is the type who would get all up in Don's business the more he tried to resist her. Maybe she'll be the figurative body at the bottom of the lake from "A Place in the Sun?"

  15. Okay, I just looked up that film (La Tour de Nesle), and IMDB says that it's one of the few COLOR films that was produced in the French cinema during the 1950s. The film Don was watching was black and white. So I guess it's still a mystery. I think I'm still going for Last Year at Marienbad, or possibly Hiroshima Mon Amour. It's been years since I've seen either of those movies, so I could be wrong. It wouldn't be the first time…

  16. I think the color definitely eliminates it.

  17. Would "red balloon" refer to the children's story, "Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown? The red balloon is in the child's room at the end of the evening… "goodnight light and the red balloon…"
    Just a thought!