|This article may need to be rewritten entirely to comply with Wikipedia's quality standards. (July 2014)|
Jon Hamm as Don Draper.
|Mad Men character|
|Portrayed by||Jon Hamm
Brandon Killham (Young Dick Whitman)
|First appearance||"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" (1.01)|
|Created by||Matthew Weiner|
|Aliases||Richard Whitman (birth name)|
|Occupation||Senior Partner and Creative Director, Sterling Cooper & Partners (season 6-present; End of Season 7 Part 1 for Creative Director)
Founding Partner, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (seasons 4-6)
Creative Director, Sterling Cooper (seasons 1-3)
Donald Francis "Don" Draper is a fictional character and the protagonist of AMC's television series Mad Men, portrayed by 2008 Golden Globe winner Jon Hamm. Until the Season 3 finale, Don was Creative Director of Manhattan advertising firm Sterling Cooper. He then 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. Their agency later merged with CDC to become Sterling Cooper and Partners while pursuing a contract from Chevy.
||This section describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (April 2012)|
Most of the characters in the series are portrayed as knowing little, if anything, of Don’s history and true identity; Harry Crane remarks in episode 3 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 through a series of flashbacks that "Donald Francis Draper" is an assumed identity; the character is supposed to have been born as Richard "Dick" Whitman to a 22-year-old prostitute in Illinois, who dies in childbirth, and an abusive alcoholic, Archibald "Archie" Whitman, who dies when a horse spooked by an electrical storm kicks him in the face when Dick is ten years old. He lives with his stepmother Abigail and his younger brother Adam, and they move in with Abigail's sister Ernestine, and Ernestine's husband Mac, who run a bordello. When Ernestine dies, Abigail and Uncle Mac begin living together as a couple. While Uncle Mac is kind to Dick, Abigail shouts and beats Dick.
In the show, there is some ambiguity concerning Don's and Dick's fictional birthdays. 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 Dick Whitman was probably born sometime between December 1925 and the early months of 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 1960 presidential election was held on November 8, making the real Don 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, however, Don tells Shelly, a TWA stewardess, that today is his birthday, but showing his driver's license will not help prove it (Season 3: "Out of Town").
Korean War and change in identity
Dick never finishes high school (Season 4: "The Summer Man"), and in his early twenties he runs away to enlist in the U.S. Army and is sent to fight in the Korean War. He is put under the command of a Lieutenant Donald Francis Draper, an engineer in charge of building a field hospital with only Private Whitman to assist him; all of his previous subordinates either desert or are captured. Upon their meeting, it is revealed that Lieutenant Draper, having been drafted during college, is close to completing his tour of duty.
During an enemy artillery attack, the real Lieutenant Draper is shown to be killed in an explosion that Whitman accidentally causes, which burns Draper's body beyond recognition. Seeing this, Whitman switches the real Lieutenant Draper's dog tags with his own. Whitman later awakens in a hospital, presumed to be Lieutenant Draper, and is awarded the Purple Heart. He is sent home with Lieutenant 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 parents don't believe him. When Don later meets Adam in New York, he shuns him and then learns that Adam committed suicide.
Whitman makes his escape and begins his new life as Don Draper. The new Don Draper is working as a used car salesman when Anna M. Draper, the widow of the real Don Draper, tracks him down. After learning that her husband is dead she and the new Don become close and continue to remain close friends after they obtain a legal divorce, until Anna's death of cancer later in the show.
Life as "Don Draper"
It is revealed that the new Don Draper moves to New York City, where he works as a fur salesman and attends City College at night. It is at this job that he meets his future wife, Betty, a model who does a photo shoot for the company. The character Roger Sterling claims that he "discovered" Don in this job and brought him to work at Sterling Cooper; however, it is shown that Sterling meets Don when he wants to purchase a fur for his mistress Joan Holloway. After selling him the fur, Don repeatedly lobbies Sterling for a job; Sterling declines Don's repeated requests for a job, but gets drunk with Don. The next day, Don reports to work at Sterling Cooper, explaining to an astonished Sterling that he had offered Don a job the night before. Don eventually becomes 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 is occasionally courted by other advertising firms. Although his true character remains mysterious and heavily guarded, almost everyone at the firm is portrayed as respecting his talent. At the same time, many in the firm are also troubled by Don's erratic behaviour. Peggy Olson begins her career at Sterling Cooper as Don's secretary, but with Don's support becomes a copywriter. Throughout the series they are portrayed as growing their trust and mutual respect for one another, even as Peggy advances in her career and eventually leaves the firm.
Don and Betty are married in May, 1953, and eventually move into a house with an address shown as 42 Bullet Park Road, Ossining in Westchester County, New York. After Betty and Don are divorced when Betty discovers Don's identity, Don marries his secretary Megan and they move to a stylish Upper East Side apartment, whose address is shown in Season 6, Episode 13 ("In Care Of") to be 783 Park Avenue, Apt. 17B, New York, NY 10021. While married and single, Don has sex with many women he meets in both business and social settings, including an artist (Midge Daniels), his secretary Allison, his secretary Megan whom he marries, a stewardess (Shelly), an unemployed friend of Roger Sterling's new wife (Bethany), his daughter's teacher (Suzanne Farrell), a client (Rachel Menken), a waitress (Doris), a prostitute (Candace), a business consultant (Dr. Faye Miller), a hedonist (Joy), the wife of the lead performer in the Utz campaign (Bobbie Barrett), and a married neighbour (Sylvia Rosen).
When Pete Campbell takes a package addressed to Don Draper from his estranged brother Adam, Campbell discovers Draper’s true identity and attempts to blackmail him with this information. However, when Campbell confronts Draper he confesses to Bert Cooper who shrugs off the news, much to Campbell's astonishment. Cooper later uses the same information to compel Don to sign a three-year employment contract.
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 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.
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Despite his outward cynicism and arrogance, Don 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 Freddy's alcoholism.
Don adheres to a stricter code of business ethics than many of his colleagues. A Season 2 arc has Don upset about being told to drop the smaller local Mohawk Airlines as a client in hopes of picking up American Airlines. 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", which Don thinks 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's sleeping with an executive of Jaguar Cars in order to secure the account.
Don briefly becomes a confidante to Art Director Sal Romano, a closeted homosexual whom Don sees in a compromising position in a Baltimore hotel. On their way back to New York, Don gently lets Sal know he is aware of Sal's homosexuality and couches his comments about their London Fog account artwork to offer Sal advice about being careful. When Lee Garner, Jr. tells Harry Crane to fire Sal (though he does not share his reason: Sal would not give in to Garner's sexual demands), Crane initially takes no action, causing Garner to storm out of a meeting. Roger Sterling immediately fires Sal when he learns of Garner's demands. Sal goes to Don for help, but Don supports the decision to fire Sal, whom he suddenly regards with homophobic distaste.
While Don is not color-blind in matters of race, he recognizes the changes sweeping the country and acknowledges the advertising potential of "the Negro market". In the pilot, Don is seen asking a black waiter about the waiter's cigarette preferences. In "My Old Kentucky Home" (Season 3, Episode 3), Don attends a festive Kentucky Derby party hosted by Roger Sterling and watches with disgust as Sterling serenades his young wife in blackface. Don 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 hospital waiting room who says 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 to Megan feeling 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 he has interceded on her behalf on those occasions.
Don dislikes his father-in-law, Eugene, but agrees to take Eugene into his home when he becomes unable to live on his own. On several occasions, Don shows more patience and understanding toward Eugene than does Betty. After Eugene's death, however, Don tells Betty that he and Eugene hated each other.
Don Draper and women
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Don 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, Don 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, Don 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, Don 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 Don to keep 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 unsuccessful attempt to save his marriage; Betty uses this revelation as an excuse to divorce him in order to marry Henry Francis, an aide to New York State governor Nelson Rockefeller.
Don's womanizing hits its peak during Season 4, which takes place from 1964 to 1965. At the beginning of Season 4 in 1964, Don hires a prostitute to slap him 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. Having had a crush on him all along, she retrieves his keys and brings them back to his apartment, where Don is barely conscious. Instead of leaving his keys and going back to the party, Allison invites herself inside and offers to cook for him, though he refuses, and he collapses onto his couch. As she begins to leave, Don makes a pass at her, which she returns and has sex with him. This later creates tension in their professional relationship when Don tries to acts as if nothing happened and he gives her a large Christmas bonus to make up for her inadvertently hurt feelings. Confused and heartbroken, 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; he tells her that she can write it herself and that he will sign off on whatever she writes. Allison becomes enraged and 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 later tries to write a letter of apology to Allison, but then decides to leave it be. 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 extreme anxiety attack over being discovered as the AWOL Dick Whitman after seeing FBI agents in his apartment corridor, Don reveals this piece of his checkered past to Faye. She sympathizes with him and offers emotional support, but she also insists that he confront these issues in his life and turn himself in. When Don, in an emergency, asks Faye to look after Sally, Faye warns Don that she is not good with kids, is inexperienced around them and does not have maternal feelings for them. At the end of that same episode, after Sally has suddenly shown up at SCDP, Sally flees from Don when he tells her that she has to go home to Betty, and runs down the hall where she trips and falls into the arms of Don's new secretary, Megan Calvet. Faye feels forced into the situation with Sally, and gets angry at Don for asking her to watch the child for that short period of time, 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 satisfied in his relationship with the ambitious and imperious Faye, Megan seduces him in his office one night, telling him not to worry, she just wants to have sex with him and that she won't make a scene about it. After their one-night stand, Megan surprises Don by revealing that she is very intelligent, liberal and eager to learn from Don and Peggy. 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.
When the fifth season opens, in May 1966, it is revealed that Don has told Megan all about his past and his real identity, and that, unlike with Betty and Faye, Don's secret was for the first time not confided under duress, as well as that Megan was sympathetic, accepting and loving in her reaction. It is also revealed that Don and Megan married sometime between seasons four and five (between October 1965 and May 1966) and have moved into a penthouse apartment on Park Avenue and 73rd. Over the course of the first year of his marriage to Megan, Don is besotted with Megan and her natural skill at her work. When Megan decides she wants to quit advertising to pursue her dream of being an actor, Don is initially skeptical and his feelings hurt, but wanting to make her happy, he relents. Don remains fearful of Megan's acting career, and they begin to argue with a little more frequency. One of these arguments is over Don's past relationships, when they encounter one of his former girlfriends, Andrea Rhodes. After encountering Rhodes, Don develops a severe fever and leaves work early to lay down. While he is sleeping, he hallucinates that Rhodes enters his apartment and forces herself upon him sexually even as he tries to tell her "no"; the fever dream climaxes with Don "killing" her. When he wakes the next morning, fever broken, he is terrified before realizing that it was all just a dream and that Megan has been with him all night, nursing him back to health.
In the sixth season, sometime before January 1968, Don begins an affair with his downstairs neighbor, Sylvia Rosen. In early February 1968, Megan reveals to Sylvia that she had in fact become pregnant while the Drapers were in Hawaii, but that she has miscarried two days prior, and hasn't told Don about the pregnancy or the miscarriage; she tearfully goes on to say that she is has mixed feelings about miscarrying, 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. In June 1968, Sylvia and Don engage in a days-long BDSM sexual role-play game in a Manhattan hotel, until Sylvia has a nightmare while she naps about Don dying and she having to comfort Megan at the funeral. This prompts her to safe word out of their game, and she ends their affair. Her rejection of him and their fantasy games initially makes Don anxious and sad, but when he is misled into being given a shot of methamphetamine by Jim Culter's doctor and spends the weekend at work high on it, he comes to realize why he has been subconsciously attracted to Sylvia, and the realization is enough to shock him into retreating from her. When Don later helps Sylvia's son avoid going to Vietnam, their affair temporarily resumes until they are discovered together by Don's daughter Sally. After this Sylvia is not seen again for the remainder of the season.
Don Draper and vehicles
Don is working as a used-car salesman when Anna Draper finds him. He enjoys, on at least one occasion, the company of motorcyclists and hot rod enthusiasts while 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 a 1961 Dodge Polara, after which Roger Sterling goads him into purchasing an ice blue and white 1962 Cadillac Coupe de Ville; Sterling tells him the Cadillac is a sign that Don has "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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