|Created by Matthew Weiner|
Played by Jon Hamm
Last appearance "Person to Person" (7.14)
TV show Mad Men
|Nickname(s) Don, Dick|
Creator Matthew Weiner
Significant other Betty Draper
|Portrayed by Jon HammBrandon Killham (Young Dick Whitman)|
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)
Family Archibald WhitmanEvangelineAbigail Whitman (stepmother)Uncle Mac (stepfather)
First appearance "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" (1.01)
Similar Betty Draper, Peggy Olson, Roger Sterling, Pete Campbell, Joan Holloway
Jon hamm discusses don draper s dark side and the coke ad emmytvlegends org
Donald Francis "Don" Draper is a fictional character and the protagonist of AMC's television series Mad Men, portrayed by Jon Hamm. Up to the Season 3 finale, Draper 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 left their previous agency in advance of an unwanted acquisition. The agency later merged with a rival firm, Cutler Gleason & Chaough, to become Sterling Cooper & Partners while pursuing a contract from Chevrolet.
- Jon hamm discusses don draper s dark side and the coke ad emmytvlegends org
- Don draper fires lane pryce
- Early life
- Korean War and change in identity
- Life as Don Draper
- Don Draper and women
The character of Don Draper is partially inspired by Draper Daniels, a creative director at Leo Burnett advertising agency in Chicago in the 1950s, who worked on the Marlboro Man campaign.
Don draper fires lane pryce
Most of the characters in the series are portrayed as knowing little, if anything, of Draper's history and true identity; Harry Crane remarks, "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 with figures from his past.
As the series unfolds, it is gradually revealed through flashbacks that "Donald Francis Draper" is an assumed identity; the character was born Richard "Dick" Whitman. Whitman was born in Illinois to a prostitute who died in labor and an abusive, alcoholic farmer, Archibald "Archie" Whitman, who was killed during a thunderstorm when a spooked horse kicked him in the face while a ten-year-old Dick watched. He was raised primarily by Archie's wife Abigail, who saw him as a constant reminder of her husband's infidelity and hated him for it; she was physically and emotionally abusive to him, calling him "son of a whore" and giving him savage beatings at the slightest provocation. He hated her just as much: years later, upon learning that she died in agonizing pain of cancer, he simply says, "Good." She later gave birth to a boy named Adam, who considered Dick his brother. The one person to show him any kindness as a child was "Uncle Mac", a friend of his father's who taught him how to survive in the real world.
During this period of his life, he begins to suffer from croup and is left under the care of a prostitute named Aimee, who takes his virginity when she rapes him.
There is some ambiguity concerning Draper's and Whitman's birthdays. Although Draper celebrates his birthday on June 1, at the time of his birthday party in 1966, 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. In a May 7, 2015, episode of Fresh Air, show runner and creator Matthew Weiner stated that Draper is ten years older than his wife Betty, who was born in 1931-1932, making Dick born in 1922. However, this timeline doesn't seem to add up, as the Korean War (1950-1953) did not start until 1950, making Dick 28-31 years old, but he is depicted in a flashback scene as being in his early 20s and his half brother Adam about age 10.- 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, Draper tells Shelly, a TWA stewardess, that today is his birthday, but showing his driver's license will not help prove it.
Korean War and change in identity
Whitman supposedly never finishes high school, and in his early 20s he runs away to enlist in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. Once deployed, he serves under the command of Lieutenant Donald Francis Draper, an engineer under orders to build a field hospital with only Private Whitman and shovels to assist him; all of his previous subordinates either deserted, or were captured or killed. Whitman is appalled and immediately realizes his mistake in enlisting. Whitman soon learns that Lieutenant Draper, having been drafted during college, is very close to completing his tour of duty.
During an enemy artillery attack, the two men scramble for cover. When the firing stops, neither man is wounded. Gasoline however has been spilled and is seen trailing out of a container onto the dirt. Whitman is so scared that he unknowingly urinated on himself. As the two men try to calm down by lighting up cigarettes, Draper points out he wet his pants, and Whitman bends over to look and accidentally drops the lit cigarette lighter, which causes the gasoline to ignite in a second and causes a big explosion. This explosion instantly kills the real Lieutenant Draper. Years later, Don's co-worker Freddy Rumsen gets drunk at work and urinates on himself and his shoes and leaves work in disgrace, later getting fired for excessive drinking. While the employees laugh and make fun of Freddy's wet pants, Don gets extremely angry and tells the employees to stop. The employees have no idea that no doubt, Freddy's wet pants were a reminder to Don about what happened in Korea. Whitman is injured by the explosion but crawls to find that Lieutenant Draper's corpse is burned beyond recognition. Whitman then immediately switches Draper's dog tags with his own, and then passes out. Whitman later awakens in an U.S. Army field hospital, is presumed to be Lieutenant Draper, and is awarded the Purple Heart. He keeps this later in his desk drawer at Sterling Cooper. He is sent home on a train with Lieutenant Draper's coffin (now believed to be Private Whitman's) and another military officer to offer the Army's regrets to Whitman's survivors. He refuses to get off the train at the train station, but stands inside and looks out through the train windows. He sees Abigail and Mac, but is spotted by half-brother Adam Whitman, who yells "I see him!!!" Abigail and Mac do not believe him and tell him he's dead in the coffin. Adam knows for sure that it was Dick in the train though. Years later in 1960, Adam shows up at Sterling Cooper unannounced. Adam is supposed to be about twenty, but appears to be in his late 20s. He is very tall, pale, has wrinkles, and reddish hair, and looks nothing like Dick/Don. Adam has been living in New York as a janitor, and saw his half-brother's photograph in a newspaper for winning an advertising award. Draper reluctantly agrees to meet Adam at a coffee shop, where Adam informs him that Abigail died of stomach cancer, Uncle Mac is also dead, and that he has no family left at all. "Don" tells him he is glad Abigail is dead. However, fearing that Adam will blow his cover, and that his wife Betty will find out and so will his co-workers at Sterling Cooper, he rejects Adam and never sees him again.
In a flashback, we learn that Draper immediately takes the train out of Indiana, and first becomes a used car salesman using the real Don Draper's social security number and information. Draper's wife Anna somehow discovers that someone has been using her husband's information, and she tracks him down at work (around 1951). Her husband was supposed to return home from Korea, but obviously she has not heard from him, so she knows something is terribly wrong. "Don" confesses to her that he is indeed using Don's information, and he informs Anna that Don was killed. He doesn't tell her that he accidentally killed him though. Anna is stunned that her husband never even mentioned her to Dick in the brief time they were together in Korea. This makes her sad, and makes her think that Don actually wanted to marry her sister (with the good legs), and that he must not have thought very much of her if he didn't even mention that he was married. Anna and Don had no children together. Dick and Anna immediately form a very close bond, and he promises to financially support her (since she will not be able to collect "survivor's benefits" from the military). He buys her a house close to the beach in San Pedro, California and she works as a piano teacher in her home. However, in another year or two, he wants to marry his new girlfriend Betty in New York City, and needs to obtain a legal divorce from Anna. He pays all the costs, and Anna remains the most supportive, and somewhat "motherly" figure in his life, until she dies of bone cancer around 1964.
Life as "Don Draper"
It is revealed that the new Don Draper has relocated 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 beautiful future wife, Betty, a model who looks like Grace Kelly and who does a photo shoot for the company. The character Roger Sterling claims that he "discovered" Draper in this job and brought him to work at Sterling Cooper; however, it is shown in a flashback that Sterling meets Draper when he wants to purchase a fur for his on-and-off mistress Joan Holloway. He notices Don's advertising tag and Betty's photograph on the wall advertising a fur, and calls it "stupid." After selling him the fur, Draper repeatedly lobbies Sterling for a job; Sterling declines Draper's repeated requests for a job. Draper hatches a plan to "accidentally" bump into Sterling walking into the skyscraper that Sterling Cooper is located in. He tells Sterling that he wants to take him to an early lunch and learn about him, and offers to pay for drinks, which Sterling reluctantly agrees to do. Sterling gives Don advice while drinking several cocktails. The next day, Draper reports to work at Sterling Cooper, explaining to an astonished Sterling that he had offered him a job the night before. It is assumed that Sterling never offered him employment, but that Don tricked him into thinking he did because he was so drunk that he just doesn't remember this. Draper is eventually promoted to Creative Director at Sterling Cooper, and later a junior partner. He is considered a major 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 much more prestigious 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 Draper's erratic behavior. Peggy Olson begins her career at Sterling Cooper as Draper's naive and virginal secretary, but with her boss' on-and-off support, becomes a copywriter. Throughout the series their relationship is portrayed as one of trust and somewhat mutual respect, sometimes supportive, sometimes adversary, even as Peggy advances in her career and eventually leaves the firm for much more money and prestige. Don helps Peggy get over losing her illegitimate baby over Thanksgiving 1960, and Peggy helps him through Anna Draper's 1964 death.
Draper and Elizabeth "Betty" Hofstadt are married in May 1953, and eventually they move into a house with an address shown as 42 Bullet Park Road, Ossining in Westchester County, New York. . Don and Betty have a rocky marriage, and at times Don acts erratically or with anger. During a birthday party for his daughter, he is supposed to pick up a birthday cake, and he disappears for many hours- only to return at night with a dog. He also berates Betty for wearing an early 1960s bikini, and leaves her in the middle of this same fashion show on 4th of July (to meet his mistress Bobbie). At times he is fed up with his childrens' behavior, particularly Bobby, who often spills drinks or is carelessly playing with a toy. Betty decides to separate from Don in 1962 when Bobbie's husband Jimmy tells her that Don is sleeping with his wife. Months later when they have to go visit her father who had recent strokes and is at the beginning of Alzheimer's, Betty sleeps with Don in her childhood bedroom and gets pregnant with their third child. She contemplates getting an illegal abortion after Don confirms her suspicions of his infidelity with Bobbi Barrett. Betty's father Gene (Eugene) moves into their home because of ongoing health issues, and soon dies. She meets a politician named Henry Francis in 1963 while waiting near the ladies room. Betty gives birth to a son, and names him Gene, in honor of her father which infuriates Don, since he never got along with Betty's father. He begins an affair with Sally's teacher Suzanne. Betty is able to access Don's secret drawer in his home office when the keys accidentally end up in the dryer. Betty opens the drawer to find divorce papers from Anna, a deed to her house in San Pedro, photos of Adam and Dick, and more clues that Don has been living a lie. Betty confronts Don about the shoebox full of photos, as Suzanne is secretly waiting outside in a car wanting to run off with Don. Betty thinks about her feelings for Henry Francis, whom she barely knows, and Don. After President Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald are shot and killed, these events push Betty into Henry's arms, and she decides to get a divorce. She realizes she no longer loves Don during Margaret Sterling's wedding.Betty marries Henry Francis after her Reno, Nevada divorce is granted in early 1964.
Don begins a downward spiral of alcoholism and paying prostitutes to hit him. Don then begins to also see Dr. Faye Miller, a beautiful and intelligent consumer strategist who is helping SCDP. Don also sleep with his nervous secretary Allison as well as his next young secretary Megan Calvet. Dr. Miller believes that Don might propose marriage to her, but she is awkward around children, particularly his daughter Sally. Megan on the other hand, despite her young age, is a natural around Don's children. After a trip to Disneyland in 1964 and inheriting the now deceased Anna Draper's engagement ring, he decides to propose to Megan, whom he barely knows. They marry, and move into a stylish, Upper East Side apartment, with custom furniture, a balcony and white carpet on Park Avenue.
Throughout the series, Draper has sex with many women he meets in business and social settings, as well as prostitutes and call girls. Some of these women include: a bohemian artist named Midge Daniels (who later becomes a heroin addict), Rachel Menken, a sophisticated Jewish department store heiress, Bobbie Barrett- the older, aggressive wife and manager of crass comedian Jimmy Barrett, Joy- a young and free-spirited European/American hedonist in her early 20s who travels around the world with her rich Eurotrash father and his freeloading European entourage, Suzanne Farrell-his daughter's elementary school teacher with a troubled brother, a Southern stewardess named Shelly, Candace- a prostitute, several one-night stands, and calls girls, Bethany Van Nuys- a very young and beautiful young friend of Roger Sterling's second wife Jane, Dr. Faye Miller- a highly intelligent, sophisticated and classy business consultant who becomes Don's steady girlfriend, his skittish secretary Allison; his secretary Megan Calvet who becomes his second wife, Sylvia Rosen- a married, older Jewish neighbor who lives in Don's apartment building, and Doris- an older, somewhat frumpy waitress with a mysterious past that Don is attracted to for some unknown reason.
In 1960, Pete Campbell decides to go into Don's office when the rest of the office has left for the day, to see what it is like to sit in his chair. A mail room boy drops off a package (labeled "confidential") not knowing that is not Don Draper at the desk. Campbell then takes the box home, and hides it in a coat closet for a while. The box is from Adam and filled with old photographs and papers. It was Adam's hope that his brother Dick would look at the photos and change his mind about re-establishing a relationship with him. It is clear that Adam is very lonely and lives in a hovel. Campbell discovers Draper’s true identity through the photos and the names on the back of the photos that don't match Don's. Campbell's wife Trudy knows about this box, and is disturbed and upset that he has it. Campbell later re-wraps the box, and re-addresses it to Don and returns it to his office. When Campbell doesn't get a promotion that he wants, he attempts to blackmail Don with the information from the box. However, when Campbell confronts Draper, he confesses to Bert Cooper who shrugs off the news, much to Campbell's astonishment. Don and Bert also decide not to fire Campbell. However, Cooper later uses this same information to "force" Draper to sign a three-year employment contract. During the next ten years (until Campbell leaves advertising in 1970), Campbell and Draper have a relationship that borders on blackmail and friendship/enemies, but Don needs Campbell's help several times to protect his identity no matter what, and Campbell goes out of his way to protect him. We learn that after Don rejected Adam at the coffee shop, that he decides to give Adam five thousand dollars in cash, a large amount back in 1960. Months later, while Don is looking through the box, he decides to call Adam and check on him, only to discover through the seedy motel manager that he hung himself and left the $5000 in his room, which the city of New York legally took.
In December 1963, Draper convinces Bert Cooper, Roger Sterling, and Lane Pryce, along with Peggy Olson, Pete Campbell, Joan Holloway, 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 agency Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, working out of a hotel suite before moving to the Time-Life Building. Draper also leads a later merger with a rival agency. While the new agency is successful, at the end of Season 6, he is forced to take "a leave of absence" from the new firm because of his erratic behavior which costs the firm a possible advertising account with Hershey Chocolate, after he tells them of his real life growing up in a whore house during a pitch.
Draper works as a freelancer for a year while still technically on SCDP's payroll. His wife Megan has quit her promising and rewarding soap opera job in New York City because Don was upset about her romantic scenes, and he tells her they need to move to Los Angeles for his job. Don, however has to remain in New York afterall, but Megan decides to move to the smoggy Valley area of Southern California and pursue acting out there. She throws parties at her small home with hippies, homosexuals, and young industry people and becomes friendly with them. She also has a woman friend, and during one of Don's visits, they end up having a threesome with him. After years of them flying back and forth, the differences in their ages and lifestyles becomes apparent, and combined with a faltering acting career, Megan asks Don for a divorce around 1969. Don, feeling guilty over his past infidelities during their marriage, and being responsible for Megan losing her New York soap opera role years before, decides to give her a massive one million dollar settlement. Megan however also flies back to New York to get her remaining belongings, and Megan's French mother Marie (and Roger Sterling's future third wife) also takes all of the designer furniture (some of which was custom built for the New York apartment) with her as well. The agency eventually allows Don to come back on the condition that he stops drinking on the job. He does his work well under Peggy Olson now, and eventually assumes his old position with the company. Senior partner Bert Cooper dies of old age just as the Apollo Moon landing takes place on July 20, 1969. This distresses Roger Sterling greatly because he admired Bert and looked up to him as a father figure. Roger Sterling, with the support of Don and the other partners, sells SCDP to McCann as an independent and separate subsidiary of McCann. This lasts for a year, but then McCann suddenly decides to absorb SCDP into the parent company. When McCann does this, its executives groom Draper as management material, but he panics at the thought of being tied down, his life is in shambles again, and he leaves the company in the middle of an important meeting. He embarks upon a nomadic existence, sometimes working as a mechanic while he also financially supports young guys racing. He encounters many difficulties on his way across the United States, including his car breaking down at a rural motel. While stuck there for several days, he encounters a broken Coke vending machine which he stares at (his new agency represents Coke's advertising. Betty also tried out to be a Coke photograph advertising model in 1960 when McCann was just trying to lure Don to their agency ten years prior). He also gets beat up by a group of veterans, and ends up giving his car away to the young motel handyman who is a thief and con-artist.
In the series' final episode ("Person to Person") that takes place October/November 1970, Don is on his way to California after being in Utah and the Bonneville Flats racing. During a phone call, his daughter Sally reluctantly informs him that her mother is dying of lung cancer from years of non-stop smoking, and she probably only has six months to live. Don has not seen his children in months, and has not been in contact with Betty, even though he is supposed to see his children every other weekend. Betty gets a collect call from Don ("person to person call"), and although they have been divorced for six years, Don is greatly saddened that Betty is dying of cancer. In the past four years, he lost the two other major women in his life to cancer as well (Anna Draper to bone cancer, Rachel Menken to leukemia), and vows to return to New York and take custody of his three children (even though he no longer has a place to live). Betty refuses Don's offer, basically tells him that he has been in absent father the past couple of years, and she wants their children to instead live with her annoying brother William and his equally annoying wife Trudy. She wants the boys to have a mother figure in their lives, as Henry's older daughter is a young adult living elsewhere. Sally (who is about 15/16 years old and at boarding school), wants Gene and Bobby to remain with her step-father Henry Francis in his mansion. She tries to convince both Betty and Don that this is the right decision. Don and Betty have a tearful farewell phone call as Don seems lost, uncertain, shocked (Betty is only around 39 years old), and uncertain about when he needs to return home to New York. Don ends up in San Pedro, California where Anna used to live, and meets up with Anna's niece Stephanie again. A once promising college student when Anna died, she has since had an illegitimate baby son that she gave up to the father's parents, seems not to be in contact with her own mother, and has been floundering as a poor hippy for years. Stephanie invites Don to join her at Esalen, a remote, mostly hippy meditation/yoga retreat in Big Sur, California on the cliffs above the Pacific Ocean with counseling workshops in such things as divorce and relationships. At first, Don thinks the rustic retreat is a joke, and dismisses the people, the new-age employees, and the counseling sessions. When Don tries to help Stephanie, she has to remind Don (whom she has always called Dick) that they are in fact, not family either. Stephanie leaves in the middle of the night, greatly upset about the guilt of abandoning her son. Don approaches the front desk and finds a young woman with colorful ribbons in her braids, and tells her he is stuck at the retreat with no transportation. She informs him she cannot help him with transportation for several more days, and that he is "already paid up for the week." Don hits a low point and makes a collect call (again, "person to person call") to Peggy Olson at McCann from the retreat's pay phone. At first she is greatly angered that Don has abandoned his important job at McCann, but then she senses that Don is possibly suicidal. Don confesses that he has cheated on his wives, scandalized his daughter (Sally caught him having sex with his neighbor Sylvia) and has been living a lie (using Don's name). Peggy begs Don to come back to work on Coke's advertising. When she senses Don is in great distress, she lovingly orders him to "come home!" Don abruptly hangs up on Peggy, and cannot move. A women counselor asks Don to please join her at her therapy session. It is there that Don encounters a married, somewhat awkward and nerdy man who is sad that his wife and children do not appreciate him at all, and don't even bother to look at him when he is home. This man's story strikes a chord in Don, when Don realizes he does have a "home," and that it is back at his new job at McCann working with Peggy again. Working with Peggy is his "home" he comes to realize. He lovingly embraces the sobbing man, and a renewed, refreshed, and newly hopeful Don willingly joins the meditation classes on the cliff above the ocean. The class includes people of different races and as the mediation gong sounds, Don smiles. It is inferred that Don immediately got the idea for a television Coke commercial (that begins with the same sounding gong) where people from different cultural backgrounds are together singing about the world of Coke. The scene then cuts away to the actual 1971 television ad "I'd like to teach the world to sing..." as the series ends.
Viewers however were left confused if the fictional Don Draper came up with the Coke commercial, since it was a real commercial that McCann's Bill Backer came up with in 1970. Creator Matthew Weiner later confirmed that "Don Draper" did create the iconic Coke commercial, and that he had planned for many years that Don would be the fictional "creator" of it. Weiner had to get legal permission from Coke years ahead of time to end Mad Men in this fashion. Only Matthew Weiner and Jon Hamm knew of this ending years prior.
Despite his outward disenchantment and egotism, the character of Don Draper demonstrates 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. Draper is also protective of his colleagues; for example, he berates several subordinates for mocking Freddy Rumsen's episode of urinary incontinence, a symptom of Rumsen's alcoholism.
Draper adheres to a stricter code of business ethics than many of his colleagues. A Season 2 arc has him 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 Draper thinks is a doomed enterprise. He is also the only partner to protest a scheme hatched by Pete Campbell and a potential client that involves Joan's sleeping with a Jaguar Cars executive in order to secure the account. However, despite Draper's astute nature, it is not perfect clairvoyance, for Don himself loses a bit of money betting on a boxing match being confident of Sonny Liston's boxing abilities over Cassius Clay's.
Draper briefly becomes a confidant to art director Sal Romano, a closeted homosexual whom Draper finds in a compromising position with another man in a Baltimore hotel. On their way back to New York, Draper gently lets Romano know he is aware of his homosexuality and couches his comments about their London Fog account artwork to offer him advice about being cautious. Later on, when Romano won't give in to Lee Garner Jr.'s sexual demands, Garner has him fired. Romano goes to Draper for help, but when he explains what happened, Draper tells him he supports his dismissal, since Lucky Strike is too big a client to lose, and implies that Romano should have given Garner what he wanted. Regardless, Draper wishes him well before dismissing him.
While the Don Draper character 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, he is seen asking a black waiter about the waiter's cigarette preferences. In another episode, he attends a festive Kentucky Derby party hosted by Roger Sterling and watches with disgust as Sterling serenades his young wife in blackface. Draper and Pete Campbell seem to be the only guests who disapprove of, or are uncomfortable with, the spectacle.
Draper is loyal to many of his coworkers. He has close relationships with Peggy Olsen and Joan Harris. They are close friends but he has never had a sexual relationship with either. Draper and Pete Campbell dislike each other at first. Draper at first sees Pete as the son of a wealthy "old money" New York City family, who received his job because of his family connections not because of professional talent. But eventually Don and Pete grow to respect each other and a work friendship develops. Draper watches Pete become a smart and driven advertising executive. Pete realizes that Don is an important part of the firm's success and that Don supports Pete's professional development. Draper has a close relationship with Roger Sterling. They try to overlook each other's personal failings and support each other at work. Roger saves a drunken Don from drowning after Don falls into a swimming pool while they are attending a party in Hollywood. Don inspires Roger to refocus his efforts at SCDP causing Roger to engineer the firm's acquisition of the Chevrolet account. Roger fights to get Don reinstated at SCDP after his forced leave of absence.
Draper is occasionally shown to regret how he treats his family. When his wife 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 it is implied that Draper has similar convictions, he later acknowledges to his second wife that he feels a general state of disconnect between himself and his children. Draper's one consistent display of parental behavior is that he cannot tolerate Betty's often harsh treatment of their daughter, Sally, and he has interceded on her behalf on those occasions.
Draper dislikes his father-in-law, Eugene "Gene" Hofstadt, but agrees to take him into their home when Gene is no longer able to live on his own. On several occasions, Draper shows more patience and understanding toward his father-in-law than his wife. After Gene's death, however, Draper tells his wife that he and her father hated each other.
Throughout the series, Draper displays signs of alcoholism, which eventually deteriorates to a level of alcohol dependency that endangers his job. By the end of season 6, having battled constantly with his crisis of identity, Draper is forced to take a leave of absence after revealing the truth about his upbringing to the would-be lucrative and prestigious client, Hershey's. His confession is brought on by a pre-presentation round of drinks, and is the concluding incident in a long line of other drinking-related incidents that lead the partners of SC&P to finally take action; they put him on indefinite leave. Draper is hired back during Season 7, with a sobriety clause in his new contract. He violates these terms when he realizes during a conversation regarding new business with Bert Cooper that he is no longer valued as an active player in the agency. The other partners however do not realize this because Freddy Rumsen, who has since achieved sobriety, receives a call from Draper and takes him out of the office under the pretense of seeing a New York Mets game thereby keeping him away from the office until he sobers up the next morning. By the end of Season 7, Draper has succeeded in curbing his drinking, and has secured his position at the new Sterling Cooper with the help of Roger. However, since his divorce from Betty he has consistently fluctuated between problem drinking and moderation depending on his personal circumstances.
Don Draper and women
Don Draper met his future wife, Betty Hofstadt, when she was working as a model, later surprising her when he purchased a fur she wore during a photo shoot. With that gesture being the start of their relationship, Betty and Draper were soon married. The couple later has their first child, Sally, soon followed a son, Bobby. In Season 3, the Drapers have another son, Gene, named after Draper's recently deceased father-in-law.
Draper cheats on his wife repeatedly throughout Seasons 1 and 2. In Season 1, he is involved with Midge Daniels, a pot-smoking beatnik and artist who works out of her small apartment in Greenwich Village. Her bohemian lifestyle and friends do not appeal to Draper, but their relationship offers him an escape from his high-pressure job and life responsibilities. When Draper receives a bonus check of $2,500 from Sterling Cooper, he asks her to vacation with him in Paris. He 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. Draper doesn't see her again until Season 4, when Midge pretends to inadvertently run into him with the hope of selling a painting 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 Daniels, Draper pursues Rachel Menken, the daughter of Abraham Menken, the elderly, Jewish founder of the upscale Menken's Department Store. Rachel Menken is educated, sophisticated, and a savvy businesswoman, assisting her father in running the family business. Despite bickering with her during their initial business meetings, Draper becomes close to her, and they eventually begin an affair. Their relationship collapses after he professes a desire to run away with her, prompting Menken to realize Draper simply wants to run away and forget his responsibilities. She leaves on a cruise to Europe and marries sometime before the beginning of Season 2.
In Season 2, Draper is seduced by Bobbie Barrett, the wife of Jimmy Barrett, an insult comic 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, Draper reaches out to Peggy Olson, who travels from Brooklyn to Long Island by car in the middle of the night and posts his bail. Bobbie Barrett stays with Olson until her injuries from the accident heal. The affair between Barrett and Draper continues until the "Maidenform" episode, when Barrett lets it slip that Draper's previous mistresses have been talking about his sexual prowess. Because he highly values his privacy, Draper is disgusted that his extramarital escapades are being gossiped about, and immediately ends the affair. Draper must continue his professional relationship with the Barretts. The Drapers and the Barretts meet at the Stork Club for a night out. At the end of the evening, Jimmy Barrett reveals to Betty Draper that their spouses have had an affair. When his wife confronts him, Draper repeatedly denies the accusations, infuriating his wife.
Draper's wife appears willing to put her suspicions behind her, however, when she sees the television commercial Jimmy Barrett made for Utz, her anger is reignited. She calls Draper at work and tells him not to come home. Following this, he moves into a hotel room. His father-in-law has another stroke, necessitating a visit from Draper at the Hofstadt home to keep up the appearance of a happy marriage. The Drapers pretend to be a happily married couple while visiting there. In his post-stroke confusion, Hofstadt openly expresses his disdain for his son-in-law, saying, "He's got no people. You can't trust a man like that." Distraught at the rapid decline of her father, Draper is seduced by his wife in the middle of the night, leading him to believe that she has now forgiven him. When they arrive home, however, Draper's wife tells him not to move back in, saying "We were only pretending." Betty Draper later discovers she is pregnant.
Draper impulsively decides to join Peter Campbell on a business trip to Los Angeles. In California, he meets a mysterious European viscount with a 21-year-old daughter named Joy. Despite telling Campbell that the trip is strictly business, Draper 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 then leaves Joy the next morning to visit Anna Draper, who convinces him to return home to his wife and family. Later, Draper returns to Ossining and tells his wife he "wasn't respectful" to her. Draper returns home and is told by his wife she is pregnant.
In Season 3, Draper has an affair lasting several months with his daughter'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, Draper plans a weekend get-away with Suzanne, believing his wife and children are out of town. While his paramour waits in the car, Draper enters his house to retrieve a suitcase and is stunned to find his wife at home. She reveals to Draper that she has found a key to the locked drawer in his desk and discovered the box of photographs and other evidence of his past life, as well as several hundred dollars in emergency escape funds. Forced to reveal his true identity, Draper never returns to the car and Suzanne eventually walks home. He calls her the next day to break off the relationship, even though they have not been discovered, in an unsuccessful attempt to save his marriage. Draper's wife, however, uses his lies about his life and past as an excuse to divorce him in order to marry Henry Francis, an aide to New York State governor Nelson Rockefeller.
Draper's womanizing hits its peak during Season 4, which takes place from 1964 to 1965. At the beginning of Season 4, set in 1964, Draper hires a prostitute to slap him during sex. Roger Sterling's wife, Jane Sterling, sets Draper up with Bethany, a friend of hers. During one weekend of heavy drinking, Draper goes to bed with one woman and blacks out, waking up with a different woman, and having no recollection of what has happened. He continues to visit the prostitute and pay her, eventually setting Lane Pryce up with a 'hooker' friend one night in his apartment.
While Draper is on a trip to California he visits Anna Draper in San Pedro, and attempts to seduce her 18-year-old niece Stephanie. Because she has known Draper since she was a child, she declines and tells him that her aunt is dying of cancer.
When Draper goes home drunk after an office Christmas party, he forgets the keys to his apartment. He 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 Draper is barely conscious. Instead of leaving his keys and going back to the party, Allison invites herself inside and offers to cook for him. He refuses and collapses onto his couch. As she begins to leave, Draper makes a pass at her; she returns the attention and has sex with him. This later creates tension in their professional relationship when Draper tries to act as if nothing happened and gives her a large Christmas bonus to make up for her inadvertently hurt feelings. Confused and heartbroken, his secretary decides she can no longer work for him or the agency. She asks Draper to write a letter of recommendation for her; he tells her that she can write it herself and that he will sign off on whatever she writes. After she becomes enraged and throws a brass cigarette dispenser at him, she calls him "a bad person" before quitting her job and storming out in tears. Visibly shaken by the encounter, Draper later attempts to write a letter of apology to her, but then decides to leave it be.
Later in Season 4, Draper becomes friendly with Dr. Faye Miller, a consumer psychologist he frequently works with. At the beginning of 1965, before the two start dating, 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 what he believes to be FBI agents in his apartment corridor, Don reveals this piece of his checkered past to Dr. Miller. She sympathizes with him and offers emotional support, but also insists he confront the issues in his life and turn himself in. In an emergency, Draper asks her to look after his daughter; Dr. Miller warns him she is not good with children, is inexperienced around them and does not have maternal feelings. At the end of the same episode, his daughter suddenly shows up at the agency's offices and then flees from Draper when he tells her she has to go home to her mother. During her hasty departure, she runs down the hall then trips and falls into the arms of Don's new secretary, Megan Calvet. Dr. Miller feels forced into the situation and gets angry at Don for asking her to watch his daughter, telling him, "it felt like a test, and I failed."
As Season 4 progresses, Draper is no longer visiting prostitutes and seems to have settled down with Dr. Miller. Although he seems to be satisfied in his relationship with her, his secretary, Megan Calvet, seduces him in his office one night, telling him not to worry because she only wants to have sex with him and she won't make a scene about it. After their one-night stand, Draper is surprised by Calvet when she reveals she is intelligent, liberal, and eager to learn from him and Peggy Olson about advertising. With Dr. Miller's consulting firm no longer working with SCDP, she is pleased because she and Draper can now be "out in the open" with their relationship.
During the Season 4 finale, "Tomorrowland," Dr. Miller believes their relationship is stronger than ever. Draper's ex-wife, however, suddenly fires her children's long-time nanny. This leaves Draper scrambling to find a full-time nanny for his three children for their upcoming visit to California. Remembering how his daughter fell into the arms of his new secretary Megan a few months previous, Draper decides to take Megan with them so she can take the children to Disneyland and watch them while he is doing business on the trip. He goes to Anna's house one last time and Anna Draper's niece, Stephanie, tells him that Anna left him the diamond solitaire engagement ring given to her by the real Don Draper upon their engagement. Draper ends up sleeping with Megan during the trip and impulsively decides to propose to her with the engagement ring. He tells her the ring is very special to him and that he "finally feels like himself" with her. Megan accepts, and Draper returns to New York to let the agency partners and Joan Harris know about the engagement. He telephones Dr. Miller, breaking off their relationship by informing her of his engagement. Draper also informs his ex-wife as she is packing up the last moving box from the home they shared together.
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 actress, 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, Draper begins an affair with his married downstairs neighbor, Sylvia Rosen. In June 1968, the two of them engage in a days-long BDSM sexual role-play game in a Manhattan hotel. After having a dream about the two of them that she saw as an omen, she ends their affair. When Don later helps Mrs. Rosen's son avoid service in Vietnam, their affair temporarily resumes until they are discovered together by Draper's daughter. After this, Sylvia Rosen is not seen again for the remainder of the season.
Hamm's portrayal of Don Draper has received unanimous acclaim from critics and audience alike.
Dan Fienberg of HitFix wrote "Hamm's performance as Don Draper is the decade's definitive star turn, a breakout on par with -- here's that name again—what George Clooney did on ER for a brief period of the '90s. All Jon Hamm had to do was convince producers that there was value in Jon Hamm and he's done that in spades. If Matthew Weiner has occasionally pushed up against the limits of Hamm's range, it's only because Draper has been written as such a tortured and frequently unravelling character. To my mind, every time you think you've seen Hamm hit a wall, you get an episode like "The Hobo Code" or "For Those Who Think Young" or "Meditations in an Emergency" or, especially, this past season's "The Gypsy and the Hobo."" Bee Wilson of The Guardian praised Hamm's performance writing that "The Eames chairs and hour-glass dresses are a visual treat, but it's really all about Jon Hamm's performance as a man sickened by his womanising and in thrall to his own pretty lies".
In 2009, Ask Men named the fictional Don Draper the most influential man in the world, ahead of real-life figures. Additionally, Comcast listed him among TV's Most Intriguing Characters.
In 2010, Entertainment Weekly included Draper on its list of The 100 Greatest Characters of the Last 20 Years, and in 2015, they named Draper one of the 25 Best TV Characters of the Past 25 Years.
Hamm received eight nominations for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for every season that Mad Men was eligible. Hamm failed to win, losing out many years to Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston, who won numerous Emmys for his portrayal of Walter White. Many critics felt that Matthew Weiner unnecessarily split up the final season of Mad Men over two parts and two years so Hamm would have an opportunity for the Emmy at last, since Breaking Bad and already ended its final season. Hamm indeed won his final nomination at the 2015. Hamm crawled onto the stage, making fun of his nearly decade long quest to win an Emmy.