‘Mad Men’ known for attention to historical detail

Television’s “Mad Men” is well known for its attention to the 1960, and major news events from the d
This Oct. 6, 1969, file photo shows New York Mets pitcher Nolan Ryan, left, and catcher Jerry Grote celebrating defeating the Atlanta Braves to win the National League pennant, at Shea Stadium in New York.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
This Oct. 6, 1969, file photo shows New York Mets pitcher Nolan Ryan, left, and catcher Jerry Grote celebrating defeating the Atlanta Braves to win the National League pennant, at Shea Stadium in New York.

Categories: Life & Arts

Television’s “Mad Men” is well known for its attention to the 1960s.

Names for office doors, plastic covers for typewriters, booze for desks, long skirts for women and narrow ties for men all have made appearances in the program about lives and careers of people in the advertising business.

Major news events from the decade have also become parts of the series, which began during the summer of 2007 set in the year 1960. The AMC network show will end in mid-May, when the second half of the seventh season comes to an end.

The Kennedy-Nixon election of 1960, the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 and the deaths of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King (in 1963 and 1968, respectively) have all been referenced in and out of the offices of metropolitan advertising agency Sterling Cooper, later Sterling Cooper Draper Price.

When the season’s first half concluded last May, Don Draper, Roger Sterling, Peggy Olson and the rest of the gang were in 1969. Cast members were watching television — as were most people in the U.S. — as Apollo 11 landed on the moon on July 20.

If “Mad Men” continues its current trajectory, viewers may be watching references to major events that closed the decade. The year 1969 was remarkable for several notable happenings that remain widely remembered almost 50 years later. Among them:

Stonewall

Even though the “Mad Men” time line is now in mid-summer, there could be references to the Stonewall riots that took place in New York City on June 28. During the early morning hours that day, customers at the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in Greenwich Village, responded to harassment by police by rioting. The event is regarded as a catalyst for the LGBT movement for civil rights.

The Stonewall aftermath could be a way for writers to briefly revisit former Sterling Cooper art director Sal Romano, who spent most of his series time as a closeted homosexual and has not been seen since 2009’s season three.

Chappaquiddick

On July 25, Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. “Ted” Kennedy pleaded guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident that led to the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, a young colleague, in a tidal channel on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts, the week earlier.

On the night of the 25th, Kennedy made a prepared statement about the incident that was broadcast live by television networks.

Manson Murders

During the early morning hours of Aug. 9, followers of Charles Manson murdered five people at the Benedict Canyon home of director Roman Polanski, near Hollywood. Actress Sharon Tate, 81⁄2 months pregnant, was among the victims. Early on Aug. 9, Manson followers murdered supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, in their home.

“Mad Men” fans have noted a link to Tate in the show: Don Draper’s ex-wife Megan (Jessica Paré) moved to California and was spotted wearing a star-emblazoned shirt — a style favored by Tate.

Woodstock

The Woodstock Music & Art Fair took place at the Catskills dairy farm of Max Yasgur during the weekend of Aug. 15-18. An audience of 400,000 watched 32 music acts on the occasionally rainy weekend. Heavier than expected traffic closed the New York State Thruway.

Mets win series

The year 1969 was big for baseball. Expansion in both the American and National Leagues — the Kansas City Royals and Seattle Pilots joined the American, the San Diego Padres and Montreal Expos joined the National — meant each league now had east and west divisions. Post-season playoffs set up World Series teams.

In October, the “Miracle Mets” shed their loser status by beating the favored Baltimore Orioles, 4 games to 1.

Altamont Fest

The Altamont Speedway Free Festival was held Saturday, Dec. 6, in northern California. The show featured Santana, Jefferson Airplane and the Rolling Stones, among others, but also featured considerable violence. One man was murdered during the concert; three others died by accident.

Many in the crowd of around 300,000 were injured, cars were stolen and abandoned and concert attendees caused extensive property damage.

Rolling Stone magazine would later call the concert rock ’n’ roll’s “all-time worst day.”

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