Mad Men Unbuttoned: A Romp Through 1960s America

Overview

Mad Men, AMC's Emmy-and Golden Globe-winning series, has dazzled viewers and critics alike with its deeply nostalgic portrayal of Madison Avenue's Golden Age. But behind the show's sumptuous set design, top-notch writing, and trance-inducing performances, high art is undeniably at play. In Mad Men Unbuttoned, journalist and Mad Men fanatic Natasha Vargas-Cooper delves into the most fascinating and essential references from the early 1960s: the ads and the men who made them, the style, the sexual mores, the ...

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Overview

Mad Men, AMC's Emmy-and Golden Globe-winning series, has dazzled viewers and critics alike with its deeply nostalgic portrayal of Madison Avenue's Golden Age. But behind the show's sumptuous set design, top-notch writing, and trance-inducing performances, high art is undeniably at play. In Mad Men Unbuttoned, journalist and Mad Men fanatic Natasha Vargas-Cooper delves into the most fascinating and essential references from the early 1960s: the ads and the men who made them, the style, the sexual mores, the literature, and the politics of the time.

From Lucky Strike to Maidenform, gray flannel suits to Burt Cooper's Japonisme, Grace Kelly to John Cheever-Mad Men Unbuttoned examines iconic morsels from the show and the era. This book is not only the perfect glossary for the obsessive Mad Men fan, but also a vibrant, fully illustrated social history of a turbulent and unforgettable period in American culture.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Entering its fourth season on July 25, AMC's critically acclaimed TV series Mad Men takes place on Madison Avenue during the early 1960s in the fictional Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce ad agency. Inspired by the TV series, L.A. freelance writer Vargas-Cooper launched a nicely designed and engaging blog, the Footnotes of Mad Men, to survey not only the show but also the real-world historical and cultural artifacts of that period. Now her attractive blog has been adapted into an equally attractive book. As Vargas-Cooper sees it, the series is "about the culture clash and contradictions that occurred during the twilight of the Eisenhower era, the great societal shake-up of the 1960s" and its impact on modern America. She focuses on advertising, design, films, literature, politics, sex, style, and the workplace in order to probe "the most dramatic cultural shift in the 20th century." She begins by detailing all the series' regular characters and then moves on to profile real-life ad man Leo Burnett (Tony the Tiger, the Pillsbury Doughboy, the Marlboro Man), followed by everything from skinny ties, condoms, John Cheever and Frank O'Hara to Jackie Kennedy's White House tour on CBS and The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. All are neatly linked with specific TV episodes, making this both an entertaining read and the definitive companion book for the series. (July)
The New Yorker
“Possibly the richest of the “Mad Men” books...Mad Men Unbuttoned is a well-versed primer to the most literate show on television.”
The Oregonian (Portland)
“Mad Men Unbuttoned is a stylishly designed, intelligently written book.”
Women's Wear Daily
“Mad Men Unbuttoned is like an easy, vibrant reference tool for the thirtysomething, Sixties-obsessed set.”
Interview
“Mad Men Unbuttoned lends real-life context to the show’s most memorable scenes and references.”
New York Review of Books
“Mad Men Unbuttoned is likely to become a trivia-lover’s bible, as well as recommended reading for the inevitable college media-studies courses on this pop-cultural phenomenon.”
Penthouse
“A dazzling pop-culture history of the 1960s. [Natasha Vargas-Cooper’s] zeal for detail is unparalleled. This is an opinionated, sexy history book for those who hate studying.”
Nina DiSesa
“Natasha-Vargas Cooper nails the 1960s and the ad industry during this fascinating era. A good, fast, joyful read.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061991004
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/20/2010
  • Pages: 231
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

After graduating from UCLA with a BA in history and working as a union organizer in L.A. and Washington, D.C., for a number of years, Natasha Vargas-Cooper began her writing career as a film critic for E! Entertainment. Her reporting, essays, and interviews have appeared in print and Web publications ranging from the Daily Beast, New York magazine, BlackBook, Gawker, and Interview. She is currently the Los Angeles correspondent for The Awl.

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Table of Contents

Introduction xi

Characters xv

1 The Ads and the Men who Made them 1

Leo Burnett: The Boy who the Earth Talks to 3

Draper Daniels Strains Out the Sissy Taste 9

Be Manly, Get Lucky: Lucky Strike 12

Western Union: What Makes a Great Ad? 15

"Sigmund" Campbell: The Smoker's Death Wish 19

David Ogilvy: For the Snob in You 21

Redesigning Menken's: Matriarchs of the Sales Floor 24

West Germany v. Detroit: The Volkswagen Campaign 27

The Promiscuous Mingling of Art and Copy: Julian Koenig and George Lois 29

Polaroid: More Powerful than Memory Alone 31

McCann-Erickson: A Loose Alliance of Warring Chiefs 34

The Typography of Travel: American Airlines 37

Cooper Studios: Madison Ave. Artisans 39

An Illustrator's Icon: Bernie Fuchs 42

The Minimal Realism of Morton Salt: Charley Harper 45

Bethlehem Steel: A Love Letter to Infrastructure 46

Maidenform: Tie Me Up/Tie Me Down 49

2 Style 51

A Fashion Revelation: The New Look 53

"Put Your Hair in Curlers": At the Home Salon 55

La Dolce Draper: Betty's European Makeover 57

The Men in Gray Flannel Suits 60

"It Matters to Me that you're Impressed": Pete's Prep School Style 63

A Streamlined Man: The Skinny Tie 66

The Pseudorebellion of Paul Kinsey: A Man and his Beard 68

3 Working Girls 71

Rachel Menken at the Bargain Bin 73

How to be a Betty: Modeling in the 1950s 75

What they didn't Teach in Secretary School 78

Coffee, Tea, or Me?: Stewardesses, the Glamour Girls of the Skies 81

Touching and Feeling with Teacher: Suzanne 84

First Shots in the Nanny Wars: Carla 87

4 Sex 89

Peggy's Pamphlet: A Guide to (Respectfully) Getting it On 91

Preventing Peggy's Ovulation 95

Youngs for Rubbers 96

Sex and the Single Girl 99

Joan Goes Lightly Among the Lesbians 101

Sally Draper and the L-Word 105

Relax, It's Light-Up Time: Notes on Salvatore Romano 106

Weighing Sins in the State of New York: Divorce 112

Betty's Choice 115

Betty in Stirrups, Don in Waiting 118

5 Smoking, Drinking, Drugging 121

"Puffing While Pregnant" 123

Always be Smoking: Why Don Won't Quit 125

Daze of Wine and Roses: Off to Rehab 129

"Take a Pill and Lie Down": Psychiatry in the 1960s 133

6 Décor 135

The Drapers' Décor: Inside 42 Bullet Park Road 137

Plantations and Park Ave 139

The Japonisme of Bert Cooper's Office 142

Shoguns of Sterling Cooper 145

The White House Tour: Jackie Kennedy Mesmerizes the Nation 146

Suburban Rococo: Draper Residence in Regency 149

7 Literature 153

Steno Pool Book Club: Lady Chatterley's Lover 155

The Unsentimental Men of Ayn Rand 157

Ossining: Cheever Country 159

Betty's Bathtub Reading: The Group 161

Philip Roth in Bullet Park 164

An Intimate Yell: Frank O'Hara 166

8 Movies 173

The Sexual Alchemy of Don Draper 175

Snow-Covered Volcano: Grace Kelly 179

Ann-Margret Fever 181

Don's Weepies: La Notte 184

Fritz Lang Presents Penn Station 186

The Misfits: They Eat Horses, Don't They? 188

Joan in The Apartment 190

9 In Progress 193

Don in the Village: Bohemians v. Indifferent Universe 195

Sun Sets on the Eisenhower Era: World's Fair, New York, 1964 199

"When You Look at it, You do Feel Something": Rothko 201

California Cool 205

Conrad Hilton: Cold Warrior 207

Khrushchev Barred from Tomorrowland 210

"One Hell of a Focus Group": The Port Huron Statement 213

Hellfire: Four Little Girls 215

How you Get your News: The Kennedy Assassination 219

Reno: The Clearinghouse of Illusion 221

Acknowledgments 223

Illustration Credits 225

Index 227

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