Draper Daniels

I just recently came across this article in August 2009’s Chicago Magazine, a brief tribute by Myra Janco Daniels to her late husband, Draper Daniels, who was the primary inspiration for Mad Men‘s Donald Draper. It’s interesting to see where fact and fiction diverge, and it’s also the touching story of a reluctant romance. Here’s how he (first) proposed:

One day, after he had been with us for about two years, Dan came into my office with a card in his hand. By this time, the firm had been through several buyouts and mergers and I had a funny feeling that he was about to tell me of another one. I asked, “Are you going to sell me with the next merger?”
“Not exactly,” he said.
He showed me the card. On one side, he had written out his own best character traits. Then he turned it over. On the other side he had written out mine. Mine were better than his, so I knew he wanted something. I thought, What in the world has got into him?
“I’ve been thinking about this for nine months, Myra,” he said, “and I think we would make a great team.”
I said, “I think we are a great team. Think of what we’ve accomplished so far this year.”
He said, “I’m talking about a different sort of merger.”
“Yes, I’ve decided I’d like to marry you.”
I lost my voice for a moment, because I had never thought of the man that way before—and had no idea he had thought of me that way. Dan was twelve and a half years older than I and had been married before. I was against divorce in those days. But more importantly, I was happy with my life. I told him that.
“All right,” he said. “Let’s talk about it again tomorrow.” And then he walked out whistling—which, to me, was one of the most maddening things anyone can do, particularly under the circumstances.
My assistant said, “Did you get another account? Mr. Daniels seems very happy.”
I went home early and called Len, my fiancé, back in Washington. I told him what Dan had just said.
Len laughed. He knew Draper Daniels. “Come on,” he said. “He’s pulling your leg.”
The next day I wrote out a note and had it placed on Dan’s desk. “Merger accepted in fifteen years,” it said. “Today, let’s get some new business.”

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