The story of Draper Daniels, inspiration for Jon Hamm's character on the Emmy-winning Mad Men.
By: Legacy Staff
8 years ago
Mad Men, now in its fourth season, won the Emmy award on Sunday night for TV's best drama. Set in the Madison Avenue world of the 1960s, the show focuses on advertising creative director Don Draper, a complex character that the show's writer and producer Matthew Wiener has said is based in part on the real-life Draper Daniels.
But just who was Draper Daniels?
Born to a Quaker family in upstate New York, Daniels worked as a salesman at Vicks Chemical Company hawking Vicks VapoRub door-to-door before eventually landing a copywriting job at Young & Rubicam's ad agency in NYC. He moved to Chicago to head up the Young & Rubicam office there but was soon snatched up by McCann-Erickson. It is his work for Chicago-based Leo Burnett in the 1950s and 1960s, though, that Daniels is best remembered for. He created the Marlboro Man at a time when Phillip Morris was trying to unsuccessfully market filtered cigarettes to women, completely re-inventing the brand and making Marlboro the top-selling filtered cigarette. On the back of this success, Burnett won big accounts like Maytag Appliances, United Airlines and Allstate Insurance and became the largest ad agency outside of New York.
Daniels became the highest paid ad man in the industry. But he left the business briefly at the height of his powers 1962 to join the Kennedy administration, partly to atone for the guilt he felt about promoting a product already then linked to lung cancer. Like Draper, Daniels himself was a smoker, but would quit cold turkey after suffering a heart attack.
Like his fictional counterpart, Daniels was also fond of the two (and sometimes four) martini lunch, but quit drinking on the job at the insistence of his second wife, Myra Janco Daniels. Twelve years his junior, she was also his business partner at the Draper Daniels agency, and she told him she would not work with a lush.
And the womanizing?
According to Janco Daniels, she cured him of that, too. The two remained married until his death in 1983.