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9 Facts You Might Not Know About 'Mad Men'

Did you know that the creator also worked on The Sopranos?

By Brittany Natale
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The outfits, the sets, the drama—there’s nothing quite like Mad Men. The period series, which aired on AMC from 2007 to 2015, gave viewers a glimpse into the fictionalized world of New York City advertising in the 1960s. The show starred (now) household names, including Jon Hamm and January Jones, and brought in over 3.3 million viewers during its series finale—that’s how popular it was.

Although Mad Men was a pretty big deal and racked up 16 Emmys (and over 100 nominations), plenty still happened behind the scenes that you may not already be aware of. From the actors not really smoking tobacco cigarettes during their scenes to the series creator working as a producer on another hugely successful television show, here are nine facts you might not know about Mad Men.


The cast didn’t smoke tobacco cigarettes on set

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No, the cast wasn’t actually smoking Lucky Strike cigarette after Lucky Strike cigarette on the set of Mad Men. Instead, according to Gothamist, they were taking drags of herbal cigarettes made from a blend of rose petals and marshmallow. Even more shocking? Jon Hamm apparently smoked 74 of these in the pilot episode alone.


The actors also weren’t really drinking alcohol

stephanie klube, kyle humphrey, mary lynn ashby, sarah parrish, jon hamm, alexa alemanni, jennifer
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The stars of the popular show also weren’t throwing back whiskeys and cocktails all day. Instead, non-alcoholic beverages were served. This caused some cast members to be stuck with less-than-appealing drinks. For instance, John Slattery, who played Roger Sterling, often drank water with an onion to mimic vodka and onion.


This network passed on it

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It’s hard to imagine any television network passing on Mad Men since it was such a success, but at least one did. According to Indiewire, HBO didn’t even respond to Matthew Weiner, the creator of Mad Men, after he shared the pilot script with them. Thankfully, AMC ultimately took on the series.

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Jon Hamm almost didn’t get the role of Don Draper

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Jon Hamm proved to be the best actor for Don Draper, but he almost wasn't give the role. Actors like Thomas Jane and Peter Hermann were in the running, and Slattery even auditioned for the part.


The 'Mad' in 'Mad Men' is short for something

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The “Mad” in Mad Men is short for “Madison,” as in “Madison Avenue.” The show revolves around the advertising world, which could be, back then, found at the heart of Madison Avenue in New York City.


Don Draper was inspired by real people

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According to Insider, Don Draper’s character was inspired by various men. One of them was Draper Daniels, an advertising executive who famously created the Marlboro Man ad campaign in the 1950s. Other guys who may have inspired the role include Albert Lasker, considered the “father of modern advertising,” and George Lois, an ad agency art director who designed countless Esquire magazine covers.

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Most of the filming didn’t take place in New York

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Even though the series features the likes of many iconic New York City institutions (P.J. Clarke’s, Minetta Tavern, The Plaza, Grand Central Oyster Bar, we could go on), most of the filming happened in Los Angeles.


Its creator worked on 'The Sopranos'

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Weiner also wasn’t a stranger to the world of television. Before Mad Men, the series creator worked on The Sopranos. He was the supervising producer for its fifth season, a co-executive producer for part of season six, and an executive producer for the second half of the sixth season. He won two Primetime Emmy Awards for his work on the show.


It cost millions to make each episode

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Every episode of Mad Men came with a hefty price tag—each cost around $3 million to make.

Brittany Natale
Freelance Writer

Brittany is a freelance writer based in her hometown of New York City. She writes about everything from fashion and beauty to food and wellness. When she's not writing, she can often be found at her local library, playing with her cats, or exploring the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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