Friday, May 2, 2014

Ten Great Mad Men Supporting Characters

Many supporting characters have passed through the doors of Sterling Cooper, Sterling Cooper, Draper, Pryce and now, Sterling Cooper & Partners. Here are some of my favorites:

10. John Hooker (a/k/a Moneypenny): Your basic British toadie who used his accent to try and make time with the gals in the secretarial pool. Emasculated by Lane Pryce when he attempted to secure his own office space.

Last seen: receiving a "Happy Christmas" blow off from Lane after Lane was fired by Saint John (Sinjin) Powell.

9. Burt Peterson: Classic middle-manager, leaving him vulnerable to downsizing when mergers and/or acquisitions occur. See, e.g., Sterling Cooper by Putnam, Powell & Lowe; Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce and Cutler, Gleason, and Chaough.

Last seen: Getting shitcanned by Roger (for the second time).

8. Danny (Daniel J.) Siegel: Cousin of Roger Sterling's second wife, Jane. Hack copywriter let go in SCPD down-sizing at the end of Season 4 and re-invented as a Hollywood producer who looked like a mini-Dennis Hopper. Short. 

Last seen: Punching Roger Sterling in the man zone after Roger dropped one too many height-challenged jokes and tried to swipe Danny's squeeze "Lotus." 

7. Ida Blankenship: Longtime assistant to Bert Cooper and one-time "hell cat" whose perversions were experienced by a young Roger Sterling. Prone to utter politically incorrect things; hard of hearing. Also, astronaut.  

Last seen: Meeting her maker at her desk. Ignominiously wheeled out of the office by Joan et al. 

6. Jimmy Barrett: Smug comic who lets Betty in on the fact Don and Bobbi are having an affair. Known to make inappropriate comments to corporate sponsors. 

Last seen: Getting knocked out by Don at a gambling speakeasy.

5. Lois Sadler: All thumbs secretary whose rise from the phone operator's room to Don's desk proved that one can get promoted to their level of incompetence. Also, not very steady behind the wheel of a sit-down lawnmower.

Last seen: Being left behind with the rest of the pack at the end of Season 3.

4. Suzanne Farrell: Idealistic elementary school teacher known to frolic barefoot during maypole festivities. Mistress to Don Draper and good hearted sister to Danny Farrell.

Last seen: Being stood up outside the Draper family home because Don needed to make a pit stop on their way to Mystic and got confronted by Betty and his box 'o' secrets.

3. Carla: Longtime nanny to the Draper children and dispenser of such bromides as "splash some cold water on your face, and you'll remember right where you left it." 

Last seen: Unceremoniously fired by Betty Draper for the sin of allowing Glen Bishop into the Francis residence to say goodbye to Sally. 

2. Joyce Ramsey: Snarky, self-assured photographer working for Life Magazine. Access to gruesome crime scene pictures and eclectic friends, including models and pretentious Village artists. 

Last seen: Telling Peggy there's a lid for every pot and fighting off Harry Crane with a stick as he tried to pick up a her friend Carolyn. 

1. Duck Phillips: On-again-off-again tee totaler and lover of the smell of liquor on Peggy's breath. Fortunes have risen and fallen based on his sobriety (or lack thereof). High point (tie) : placing Lou Avery at SC&P when Don is involuntarily removed as head of creative; bedding Peggy Olson. Low point (tie): showing up drunk after hours at SCDP and attempting to defecate in Roger's office; being kicked out of the 1964 CLIO Awards because he was too drunk; getting knee capped by Don when PPL took over Sterling Cooper (not drunk at the time). 

Last seen: Walking into SC&P with a shit eating grin on his face foisting Lou Avery on the unsuspecting partners who don't know what a massive douche canoe Lou will turn out to be. Of course, that Duck found him should have tipped them off. 

And for those looking for his guy:

He is the Jar Jar Binks of Mad Men. I do not acknowledge him. 

No photos are being republished for commercial purposes. 


  1. What a great list - ten is too few for this great show ('cuz Kinsey isn't in there).

    I'll split a hair on the Jimmy Barrett entry:

    Last seen: Getting up, wisecracking, after getting knocked out by Don at a gambling speakeasy.

    For Joyce Ramsey, add: "did not succeed in bedding Peggy".

    Lois! Meredith is the new Lois. Wonder how she's getting along with Peggy who apparently offended Joan worse than Lou did.

  2. Great comment! I debated putting Kinsey on the list, but decided to (generally) limit the list to characters who were not regulars at any point (and yes, I know, Duck was basically a regular from the end of S1-S2).

    Paul Kinsey: Mid-tier creative with Marxist leanings unafraid of sacrificing his mohair sweater in the service of getting high. Former member of the Tiger Tunes, Princeton '55.

    Last seen: On a wing and prayer hoping to get his Star Trek spec script produced.

    Good call on Meredith. She works my last nerve, tbh.

    Thanks for commenting!

  3. You might consider doing a list of great one-off characters!

    I might put Delores on that list! We never even see her. She's almost fully realized by a phone call and a picture!

    I also have something for the poor Jewish guy brought up from the mail room for the first meeting with Rachel Mencken! So much done, with just expression, and gesture!

  4. I like Burt Peterson among the list as although he play the serious role wonderful acting..