Roger Sterling, as portrayed by John Slattery.
|Mad Men character|
|Portrayed by||John Slattery|
|First appearance||"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" (1.01)|
|Created by||Matthew Weiner|
|Occupation||Founding Partner Sterling, Cooper, Draper & Pryce|
Roger H. Sterling, Jr. (born c. 1910-17), played by John Slattery, is a fictional character on the AMC TV series Mad Men. He formerly worked for Sterling Cooper, an advertising agency his father co-founded in 1923, before he became a founding partner at the new firm of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce in late 1963.
Roger Sterling is a US Navy veteran of World War II, having served in the Pacific theater in The Battle of Okinawa. The "Sterling" in the firm's name refers to Roger's father rather than Roger, explaining why his name appears before that of Bertram Cooper. A picture in Cooper's office shows Roger as a child alongside Cooper as a young adult. In the same scene, Cooper refers to the picture and calls Roger "Peanut", indicating that Roger has known Cooper for most of his life. In Season 2, Bertram Cooper mentions that "the late Mrs. Cooper" introduced Sterling to his wife, Mona (played by Slattery's real-life spouse, Talia Balsam), whom Sterling is in the process of divorcing in favor of Don's former secretary, the 20-year-old Jane Siegel. Bertram Cooper's sister, Alice Cooper, babysat Sterling when he was a child.
Sterling is a notorious womanizer and a heavy drinker (living like he was "on shore leave") until two heart attacks in the same year changed his perspective, at least for a while. His health scare does not affect his drinking or smoking habits. He retains considerable affection from both Sterling Cooper employees (with whom he has far more contact than Bert Cooper) and his family. By 1962, Sterling has returned to work and is seen to indulge in his old habits. Numerous episodes in the third season imply that he is genuinely happy with Jane: for example, he turns down an old flame trying to rekindle their relationship.
Nevertheless, romantic tension continues between Roger and his former mistress, Joan Holloway. The romantic tension between the two reaches its peak after they are mugged one evening. Overcome with emotion and excitement, Roger and Joan spend the night together, and this encounter leaves Joan pregnant. Though initially she and Roger acknowledge that they can't have the child, in the season finale Joan is seen talking to her husband, Greg, telling him she is pregnant with his child, when really, it is Roger's. Joan and Greg divorce later, partly because Greg raped her while they were dating, and partly because he seemed to put the men in the service before his family. They break up, and he goes back to Vietnam. Meanwhile, Roger and Jane's marriage is falling apart. They are constantly snapping at one other, and the only thing Roger ever says to her is how good she looks. After taking LSD with Jane, they both finally come to terms with the fact that their marriage is over. After his LSD trip, Roger Sterling starts to take his job and life more seriously. His relationship with both of his ex-wives seems to be going fairly well, especially with Mona, who is helping him to build business relationships, even after their divorce. After Greg and Joan split, Roger attempts to help financially support his and Joan's son Kevin, but Joan, fearful of the stigma Kevin would suffer, if it were to come out that he was the product of an illicit affair, refuses.
- "John Slattery as Roger Sterling". AMC.com. Retrieved 2007-11-06.
- Roger Sterling at AMCtv.com