|Jon Hamm as Don Draper.|
|Mad Men character|
|Portrayed by||Jon Hamm|
|First appearance||"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" (1.01)|
|Created by||Matthew Weiner|
Richard Whitman (birth name)
|Occupation||Creative Director, Sterling Cooper (seasons 1–3); Founding Partner, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (seasons 4–present)|
Donald Francis "Don" Draper (born June 1, 1926) is a fictional character and the protagonist of AMC's television series Mad Men. He is portrayed by 2008 Golden Globe winner Jon Hamm. Until the third season finale, Draper was the Creative Director of Manhattan advertising firm Sterling Cooper. He became a founding partner at a new firm, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, after he and his superiors abandoned their old agency in advance of an unwanted acquisition.
Draper's character is partially based on Draper Daniels, the creative head of the Leo Burnett advertising agency in Chicago in the 1950s who created the Marlboro Man campaign. However, some of the advertising techniques and the professional accomplishments of Don Draper are based on those of Rosser Reeves, who rose to chairman of the Ted Bates agency.
Character biography 
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Most of the characters in the series know little, if anything, of Draper’s history and true identity; Harry Crane remarks in the third episode of the series, "Draper? Who knows anything about that guy? No one’s ever lifted that rock. He could be Batman for all we know." Clues are given through flashbacks, confessions, and clandestine visits to figures from his past.
As the series unfolds, it is gradually revealed that "Don Draper" is an assumed identity, and that the character's given name is Richard "Dick" Whitman. Dick Whitman was born in Illinois to a 22-year-old prostitute, who died giving birth to him. Dick was subsequently taken in by his biological father Archibald "Archie" Whitman and stepmother Abigail.
At age ten, Dick watched his father die when a horse was spooked by an electrical storm and kicked him in the face. Subsequently, Abigail, Dick and his half brother Adam moved to Pennsylvania (described by Draper as "coal country") and were raised by Abigail and a man referred to as "Uncle Mac," whom he later described to his wife Betty as having been kind to him. Dick did not finish high school, for which he later feels regret.
His relationship with his family was apparently contentious—he revealed to Betty that Archibald "beat the hell out of him" on a regular basis, and he "fantasized" about the day he could murder him. Abigail, meanwhile, made no effort to conceal Dick's past from him and referred to him as a "whore child." (When informed by his half brother Adam of Abigail's death from stomach cancer, he coldly replies, "Good.") He also appeared to be close to Adam, who was 10 years younger. However, when Adam seeks him out years later in New York City, Don rebuffs his attempt to reconnect and walks away. He later discovers that Adam hanged himself.
Although Don celebrates his birthday on June 1, at the time of his birthday party in 1966 (Season 5: "A Little Kiss"), he says, "I turned 40 six months ago," which means that Dick Whitman was probably born in December 1925 or January 1926. Pete discovers from his friend Russ in the State Department that the real Don Draper would be 43 years old. (Season 1: "Nixon vs. Kennedy") The presidential election was held on November 8, 1960, making the real Draper's birth year 1917— thus making him eight or nine years older than Dick Whitman. On a business trip to Baltimore in March 1963, Don tells Shelly, a TWA stewardess, that today is his birthday yet showing his driver's license will not help prove it (Season 3: "Out of Town").
Korean War 
Dick never finished high school, and in his early 20s he "ran away" to enlist in the U.S. Army and was sent to fight in the Korean War. He was put under the command of a Lieutenant Donald F. Draper, an engineer who was in charge of building a field hospital with only Whitman to assist him.
During an enemy artillery attack, Lt. Draper was killed by a gasoline explosion accidentally caused by Whitman, charring his body beyond recognition. Seeing this, Whitman removed Lt. Draper's dog tags, switching them with his own. He later awakens in a hospital, presumed to be Draper, and is awarded the Purple Heart. He is then sent home with Lt. Draper's coffin (now believed to be Whitman's) to offer the Army's regrets to Whitman's survivors. He avoids meeting the Whitmans at the train station, but is spotted by Adam, whose protests are not believed by his parents. Whitman makes his escape and begins his life as Don Draper.
Life as "Don Draper" 
Draper is working as a used car salesman when Anna M. Draper, the widow of the real Draper, tracks him down. She is convinced that her real husband is alive and hiding from her, but Don informs her the real Draper never mentioned having a wife. The two become close friends, though their contact is limited after Draper meets and marries Betty Hofstadt. After securing a legal divorce, he continues to support Anna financially. In the later part of Season 2, Don visits her during a trip to California for a few weeks to help clear his head. Anna dies of cancer in Season 4, and Don is devastated, calling her "the only person in the world who really knew me".
Not many details have been provided as to how Don Draper became the creative director at Sterling Cooper. Draper moved to New York City where he worked as a fur salesman and attended City College at night. It was at this job that he met his future wife, Betty, a model who did a photo shoot for the company. Roger Sterling claims that he "discovered" Draper in this job, and brought him to work at Sterling Cooper. In actuality, Sterling met Draper when he wanted to purchase a fur for his mistress Joan Holloway. After selling him the fur, Draper repeatedly lobbied Sterling for a job; Sterling declined Draper's repeated bids, but accepted his offer to share drinks. Sterling became very drunk, and the next day, Don reported to work at Sterling Cooper, explaining to an astonished Roger that he offered him a job the night before. Don and Betty marry in May, 1953, and eventually move into a house at 42 Bullet Park Road, Ossining in Westchester County, New York.
Draper eventually became Creative Director, and then a junior partner, at Sterling Cooper. He is considered a great asset to the company as he has considerable talent for understanding the desires of others, and for effectively pitching and selling ideas. Because of this, he has occasionally been courted by other advertising firms. Although his true character remains mysterious and heavily guarded, almost everyone at the firm respects his talent. Among these is account executive Pete Campbell, who seems to view Draper as both a mentor and a hindrance to his advancement within the firm. When Campbell purposely takes a package addressed to Draper from his late, estranged brother Adam, Campbell discovers Draper’s true identity, subsequently attempting to blackmail Draper with this information. However, when Campbell confronts Draper in his office with what he's discovered, Don walks directly to senior partner Bert Cooper's office, with Campbell following behind incredulously. Once in Cooper's office, Campbell reveals Don's true identity to Cooper, who shrugs off the news, much to Campbell's astonishment. However, Cooper later uses the same information to compel Don to sign a three-year employment contract.
Peggy Olson begins her career at Sterling Cooper as Draper's secretary, but with his support becomes a copywriter. He carefully but firmly nurtures her talent as she learns the process, although in the first season he makes sure she continues with her secretarial duties until promoting her in the episode "The Wheel." The relationship between Peggy and Don gradually evolves into one of mutual dependency and understanding. In Season 2, Don visits Peggy in the hospital after she gives birth and encourages her to move forward and forget it ever happened, assuring her that the incident will be kept a secret and won't affect her standing at the firm. Peggy bails Don out of police custody after a drunk-driving accident and allows his female companion to recuperate at her apartment. Don generally does not show her any favoritism, and aggressively shuts down her request for a pay raise (which she argues she should be given under emerging "equal pay for equal work" statutes), which leads her to seriously consider taking a job at another agency. However, he does treat her with as much respect as any of the male copywriters and often seems to rely on her talent. At the end of Season 3, when Don is planning on launching a new firm, he wants her to come with him. She initially refuses due to his presumptuous manner, but he eventually comes to her apartment and convinces her to join him, saying that if she didn't he would spend the rest of his life trying to hire her. In Season 4, Peggy is given more demanding assignments and greater responsibility as a copywriter at Don's new firm, and they develop a greater level of trust and comfort with each other both professionally and personally. In the Season 4 episode, "The Suitcase," we see Don go through a drunken breakdown after receiving word to call California, which he took to mean his confidante, Anna Draper, whom he knew was suffering from cancer at the time, had died. By the end of the episode's emotional journey, he has confided in Peggy more about his past (his military service in Korea, having his father die in front of him) than anyone else at the agency to date.
Betty Draper was unaware of Don's past until she discovered a collection of photographs and other documents from his previous life, which Don kept in a locked drawer in his desk. When Betty confronts Don and demands to know the truth, Don breaks down and reveals to her the secret of his true identity. Their marriage suffers another setback when Betty realizes, in the wake of John F. Kennedy's assassination, that she does not love or trust Don. She relocates to Nevada to file for divorce shortly thereafter. After being kicked out of the Draper family residence, Don moves into a Manhattan apartment near Waverly Place and Sixth Avenue.
While Don is forced to live in a small apartment, he continues to pay the mortgage and costs associated with the family home. It is later revealed that Betty and her new husband Henry Francis live in the Draper residence.
In December 1963, Don convinces Bert Cooper, Roger Sterling, and Lane Pryce, along with Peggy, Pete, Joan, and Harry Crane, to leave Sterling Cooper rather than take their chances when they learn that their parent company is being purchased by rival firm, McCann Erickson. They form the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce agency, working out of a hotel suite before moving to the Time-Life Building.
Both in and out of the office, Don's life is an entanglement of boozing and sex with a large group of women he has met in business and social settings, including at least two secretaries (Allison and Megan), a stewardess (Shelly), an unemployed friend of a friend (Bethany), his daughter's teacher (Suzanne Farrell), a client (Rachel Menken), an artist (Midge Daniels), a waitress (Doris), a prostitute (Candace), a business consultant (Dr. Faye Miller), a hedonist (Joy), and the wife of the lead performer in the Utz campaign (Bobbie Barrett).
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Despite his outward cynicism and arrogance, Draper is portrayed as having a strict code of personal ethics, insisting on honesty and chivalry in his subordinates, but not always in himself. He is protective of his subordinates, admonishing Pete Campbell in the pilot about his rude remarks to and about Peggy Olson. During the episode "Six Month Leave," Draper berates several subordinates for mocking Freddy Rumsen's episode of urinary incontinence, a symptom of his alcoholism.
Draper adheres to a stricter code of business ethics than many of his colleagues. A Season 2 arc has Draper upset about being told to drop the smaller local Mohawk Airlines as a client in hopes of picking up American Airlines. He questions the unwise risk of giving up an existing client for the chance of getting a bigger one, and also challenges the aggressive greed. In Season 3, he is hesitant to sign a wealthy client eager to pour his fortune into promoting jai alai, a sport the client thinks will replace baseball as "America's game," while Don knows it is a doomed enterprise. In the season 5 episode The Other Woman, Don is the only partner to protest a scheme hatched by Pete Campbell and a potential client that involves Joan sleeping with an executive of Jaguar Cars, in order to secure the account.
He briefly becomes a confidante to Art Director Sal Romano, a closeted homosexual, whom Don sees in a compromising position in a Baltimore hotel during a fire evacuation. Don has a mixed overall reaction to learning about Sal's sexual orientation. While he does not seem upset or offended by the news and does not tell anyone at the firm (or Sal's wife) about it, he later is harshly critical of Sal for not giving in to Lee Garner Jr.'s covert advances, and derisively says "you people" in a manner that visibly devastates Sal. He wastes no time in firing Sal, telling him that retaining the Lucky Strike account (upon which nearly all of Sterling Cooper's financial well-being depends upon) is more important than Sal's dignity.
While Don is not color-blind in matters of race, he recognizes the changes sweeping the country and acknowledges the potential of what he calls "the Negro market." In the pilot, he is seen asking a black American waiter about his cigarette preferences. In "My Old Kentucky Home" (Season 3, Episode 3), Don attends a festive Kentucky Derby party hosted by Roger Sterling, where he watches as Sterling serenades his young wife in blackface minstrel makeup. He and Pete Campbell seem to be the only guests who disapprove of, or are uncomfortable with, the spectacle.
Don is occasionally shown to regret how he treats his family. When Betty gives birth to their third child, he has a conversation with another man in the waiting room who says that he's going to be a better man for his wife and child. Although Don is implied to have had similar convictions, he later acknowledges a general state of disconnect between himself and his children. His one consistent display of parental behavior is that he cannot tolerate Betty's often harsh treatment of Sally, and has interceded on her behalf on those occasions.
On another family front, Don tends to dislike his abrasive, erratic father-in-law, Eugene, but agrees to take him into his home when he becomes unable to live on his own. On several occasions, he shows more patience and understanding toward Eugene than does Betty. After his death, however, he tells her that he and Eugene shared a mutual hatred of one another.
Draper and women 
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Draper met Betty Draper (née Hofstadt) when she was working as a model. Don surprised Betty when he purchased a fur she wore during a photo shoot, where Don was in attendance. This gesture appears to be the start of their relationship. Betty and Don are soon married, and Betty later gives birth to their first child, Sally. A few years later this was followed by a son, Bobby. In Season 3, Betty gave birth to another son, named Eugene after her recently-deceased father, with whom Don shared a mutually antagonistic relationship.
Don cheats on Betty repeatedly throughout Seasons 1 and 2. In Season 1, Draper is involved with Midge Daniels, a pot-smoking beatnik and illustrator who works out of her small, dingy apartment. Midge's bohemian lifestyle and friends do not appeal to Don, but she offers him an escape from his high-pressure job. When Don receives a bonus check of $2,500 from Sterling Cooper, he asks her to vacation with him in Paris. However, Don changes his mind after realizing Midge is in love with a fellow beatnik, and instead stuffs the check into her blouse, telling her to 'go buy a car' with it; this becomes an implicit breaking-off of their affair. Don doesn't see Midge again until Season 4, when Midge pretends to run into Don, hoping to sell him a painting in order to help fund her heroin addiction. He agrees to visit her apartment but, after learning of her true intentions, quickly purchases a painting and leaves.
During and after his affair with Midge, Don pursues Rachel Menken. She is Jewish and the daughter of Abraham Menken, the elderly founder of the upscale Menken's department store. Rachel is educated, sophisticated, and a savvy businesswoman, assisting her father in running the family business. Despite bickering with her during initial business meetings, Draper becomes close to, and eventually begins an affair with, her. She ends their affair after he professes a desire to run away with her, realizing he simply wants to run away and forget his responsibilities. She leaves on a cruise to Europe and marries a Jewish man sometime before the beginning of Season 2.
In Season 2, Draper is seduced by Bobbie Barrett, the wife of Jimmy Barrett, an insult comic (loosely based on Rat Packer Joey Bishop) who is filming a commercial for one of Sterling Cooper's clients, Utz Potato Chips. They continue their affair, taking a trip to the beach at "Stony Brook" on Long Island, but their plans are interrupted by a car accident followed by his arrest for drunken driving. Unable to post bond with the cash on his person, Don reaches out to Peggy, who travels from Brooklyn to Long Island by car in the middle of the night and posts Don's bail. Peggy also 'boards' Bobbie until her injuries from the accident heal. Bobbie and Don continue their affair until the episode "Maidenform," when Bobbie lets slip that Draper's previous mistresses have been talking about his sexual prowess. Don, who values his privacy highly, is aghast that his extramarital escapades are being gossiped about, and immediately ends the affair. Don must continue his professional relationship with Bobbie and Jimmy, and the four of them (including Betty) meet at the Stork Club for a night out. At the end of the evening, Jimmy reveals to Betty that their spouses have had an affair. A horrified Betty confronts Don, but he repeatedly denies the accusations, which infuriates her.
Betty appears willing to put the suspicion behind her. However, when she coincidentally sees the commercial Jimmy made for Utz air on television, her anger is reignited. She calls her husband at work and tells him not to come home. Don moves into a hotel room, frequently sleeping in his office. Betty's father, Eugene, has another stroke, necessitating a visit from Betty, and keeping up the appearance of a happy marriage. Betty and Don pretend to be a happily married couple while staying at her father's home. In his growing senility, Eugene openly expresses his disdain for Don, saying, "He's got no people. You can't trust a man like that." Distraught at the rapid decline of her father, Betty seduces Don in the middle of the night, leading Don to believe that she has now forgiven him. When they arrive home, however, Betty tells a confused Don not to move back in. Betty later discovers that she is pregnant.
Don, impulsively, decides to join Peter Campbell on a business trip to Los Angeles. In California, Don meets a mysterious European viscount with a 21-year-old daughter named Joy. Despite telling Campbell that the trip is strictly business, Don joins Joy and her "jet set" family of self-described nomads at their lavish vacation home in Palm Springs. He sleeps with her the same night. He later leaves Joy to visit Anna Draper.
In Season 3, Don has an affair lasting several months with his daughter Sally's schoolteacher Suzanne Farrell. Their relationship builds slowly over several accidental meetings and conversations laden with innuendo. They finally consummate their relationship in September 1963. On October 30, 1963, Don plans a weekend get-away with Suzanne, believing Betty and the children are out of town. While Suzanne waits in the car, Don enters his house to retrieve a suitcase and is stunned to find Betty at home. Betty reveals to Don that she has found the key to the locked drawer in Don's desk and discovered the box of photographs and other evidence of his past life, as well as several hundred dollars in emergency escape funds. Don never returns to the car and Suzanne eventually walks home. He calls Suzanne the next day to break off the relationship, even though they have not been discovered, in an attempt to save his marriage.
Don's womanizing hits its peak during Season 4, which takes place in from 1964 to 1965. At the beginning of Season 4 in 1964, Don hires a prostitute to slap him around during sex. Roger's wife Jane Sterling also sets Don up with a young, beautiful friend named Bethany, thinking Don hasn't been on a date since his marriage ended. During one weekend of heavy drinking, Don goes to bed with one woman, blacks out, wakes up with a different woman in his bed, and has no idea what has happened. He continues to visit the prostitute and pay her, eventually 'setting up' Lane with a 'hooker' friend one night in his apartment.
During a visit to San Pedro, California to visit Anna, Don attempts to seduce Anna's 18-year-old niece Stephanie, whom Don has known since she was a child. She refuses Don and instead tells him that Anna is dying of cancer.
When Don goes home drunk after an office Christmas party, he forgets the keys to his apartment. Don asks Allison, his secretary, to deliver the keys to him. He quickly seduces her that night on his couch. This later creates tension in their professional relationship when Don acts as if nothing happened. Confused and heartbroken over the affair, Allison decides she can no longer work for Don or the agency. She asks Don to write a letter of recommendation for her about another potential job. When his insensitivity offends her, Allison becomes greatly upset. She throws a brass cigarette dispenser at Don and calls him "a bad person" before quitting her job and storming out in tears. Don is visibly shaken by the encounter, and Allison is replaced. Don later tries to write a letter of apology to Allison, but then decides to forget about it. Allison is replaced by Ida Blankenship, Bert Cooper's former secretary, who later dies sitting at her desk, shocking Don and the staff.
During Season 4, Don becomes friendly with Dr. Faye Miller, a consumer psychologist, he frequently works with. At the beginning of 1965, before she dates Don, she informs him, "you'll be married by the end of the year." After fending off his gentlemanly advances on several occasions, she begins a romantic relationship with him. During an existential crisis, Don reveals his checkered past. She sympathizes with him and offers emotional support. Faye, however, warns Don that she is "not good with kids and is inexperienced around them." At the end of that same episode, after she suddenly shows up at SDCP, Sally flees from Don and runs down the hall, where she trips and falls. To everyone's surprise, she falls naturally into the arms of Don's new secretary, Megan Calvet. Faye is angry with Don for forcing her into a situation with Sally, telling him "it felt like a test, and I failed."
Don is no longer visiting prostitutes and seems to have settled down with Faye. Although Don seems to be in love with the classy and intelligent Faye, Megan seduces him in his office one night, telling him not to worry, she won't make a scene like Allison did. When Faye's consulting firm can no longer work with SCDP, she is excited because she and Don can be "out in the open" now with their relationship.
During the Season 4 finale, "Tomorrowland," Faye believes their relationship is stronger than ever. However, Don's ex-wife, Betty Francis, suddenly fires Carla, the children's nanny since birth, and Don has to scramble to find a full-time nanny for his three kids during their visit to California (to sign the "sold" papers for Don's house in San Pedro, which he bought for Anna in the 1950s). Don remembers how Sally fell into her arms several months previously, and decides to take Megan with him so she can take the three kids to Disneyland, and watch them at the hotel pool. When he goes to Anna's house one last time, Stephanie tells Don that Anna left him her diamond solitaire engagement ring (the one given to her by the real Don Draper upon their engagement). Don looks at the ring and is very touched. He sleeps with Megan during the California trip and decides to propose with Anna's engagement ring, telling Megan that the ring is very special to him and that he "finally feels like himself" with her. Megan accepts, and Don returns to New York to let the partners and Joan know about his very sudden engagement. He telephones Faye and breaks off their relationship by informing her of his new engagement. Don also informs his ex-wife Betty, as she is packing up the last moving box from their one-time marital home, that he is engaged.
Don and Megan are married sometime between seasons four and five (between October 1965 and May 1966) and move into a penthouse apartment on Park Avenue and 73rd. Over the course of the first year of his marriage to Megan, Don remains faithful, but as the couple begin to grow apart, the marriage suffers. Don disapproves of Megan's acting career, and they begin to argue with some frequency. One of these arguments is over Don's past relationships, when they encounter one of his former girlfriends, Andrea Rhodes. By the end of the season (March 1967), Don seems poised to resume infidelity.
In the sixth season, sometime before January 1968, Don begins an affair with his neighbor, Sylvia Rosen. At the same time, Megan reveals to one of her friends that she had in fact become pregnant, but miscarried, and never told Don; she tearfully goes on to say that she is glad she did, because she had been considering an abortion beforehand - not because of the rocky state of her marriage, but because she feared it would adversely affect her burgeoning acting career. Sylvia breaks off the affair after Don attempts to psychologically demean and dominate her; surprisingly, her rejection greatly upsets Don.
Draper and vehicles 
Don worked as a used-car salesman when Anna Draper found him. Don enjoyed, on at least one occasion, the company of motorcyclists and hot rod enthusiasts while he was visiting Anna in Southern California. At the beginning of the series, Don drives a 1959 Oldsmobile, then a 1960 Buick Invicta convertible. Later, Don wrecks an unassuming and utilitarian 1961 Dodge Polara, after which he is goaded by Roger Sterling into purchasing an ice blue and white 1962 Cadillac Coupe de Ville. Sterling tells him that the Cadillac is a sign that Don had "arrived." By the start of Season 5, it had been replaced with a 1965 Coupe de Ville, in silver with red leather interior. In the Season 5 episode "Christmas Waltz, as the agency prepares to pitch for the Jaguar account, Don leaves a check as a deposit to take a red 1965 Jaguar E-Type out for a test drive with Joan and without the salesperson. He returns the car later that day.
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- Don Draper Suit & Clothes Style in Mad Men provides details about Don's outfits - Gentleman's Gazette