Celebrity Names Blog

Mad Men & Cool Names

Mad Men & Cool Names

The hottest and most iconic show on television these days returns for a 3rd season August 16.  Mad Men's not only good TV -- in commenting on the past, it alters the future.  At least the future of fashion: look at any Banana Republic near you and see Mad Men images galore.  Everyone and everything in the early 1960s Mad Men world looks cool (though, judging from the show's story lines, this may not be the best recipe for happiness).  But what about the names?  Are they cool?  How do they compare with the names we know now?

Let's compare actors and characters: 

  • Don Draper  --  Jon Hamm
  • Betty Draper  --  January Jones
  • Sally Draper  --  Kiernan Shipka
  • Robert Draper  --  Aaron Hart
  • Roger Sterling  --  John Slattery
  • Peggy Olson  --  Elisabeth Moss
  • Joan Holloway  --  Christina Hendricks
  • Pete Campbell  --  Vincent Kartheiser
  • Trudy Campbell  --  Alison Brie
  • Salvatore (Sal) Romano  --  Bryan Batt
  • Ken Cosgrove  --  Aaron Staton
  • Rachel Menken  --  Maggie Siff 
  • Midge Daniels -- Rosemarie Dewitt

And?  What do we see?  Mad Men tends towards the short first names, often monosyllabic, with names that begin and end in consonants.  This contrasts the current popularity of a ending names, like Emma, Isabella, Ava.  Peggy, Betty and Joan are American sounding names, short and clean and simple -- even though the time period they are associated with was anything but.

So yes, at least with these actors behind the names, retro is again cool.  The show's creators have done well, their name choices fitting the show and the mid-20th century. 

As for our own time, it's the actors names that better reflect the self-conciously complex America of 2009.  There are more syllables ( though not always Jon Hamm), unusual sounds and unique choices such as January.

Now you weigh in.  Thoughts on the Mad Men names?  Do you have a favorite?  Do you foresee more Sallys on the horizon?  How do the names of today stack up in comparison?  Which name is the epitome of Mad Men cool for you?

-- D.J.


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