'Mad Men': 18 Props From the '60s
BETTY DRAPER ON SET
According to property master Gay Perello, all set dressing must be authentic, whether it ends up on screen or not. ''It is our job to create this environment. You never know when you may see it, and you don't want to be busted.''
''Decorated glass was very popular in the '60s,'' says set decorator Amy Wells. ''They always came with their own rack. Sometimes you'll find a whole set. That's great if one breaks, and that's happened a bunch.''
Wells was especially thrilled to spot this old Zenith TV remote in a Seattle store. ''They are so hard to find,'' she says. Although Harry is the head of the TV department, ''really, the remote is for anybody to use. It's one of the only ones I've got.''
''Especially if a woman was going out, a lot of lipstick holders had jewels on them,'' says Perello of this holder she picked up at an antique shop. ''You wish they weren't meant for one-time use, but a lot of them were.''
NAIL POLISH STAND
Perello found this stand as part of a set that also came with, no joke, a special hairspray holder. ''I love, love, love that set,'' she laughs. ''It just seems like so elaboration just to hold your hairspray. It's dressed on Betty's vanity. We wouldn't give that just to anybody.''
''When I was researching, I kept seeing the same nail-polish remover over and over with that distinct top and squatty bottle,'' says Perello. ''To find, in mint condition, three bottles — it was a joyous day.''
No, that isn't a real diamond on Betty Draper's finger. ''Prop houses sell expendable rings,'' says Perello. ''They're basically inexpensive Cubic Zirconia. We make sure that it isn't a diamond cut we can't use. Princess cut didn't really come out until '62. [Series creator] Matthew [Weiner] definitely knows his cuts of diamonds.''
All the coupons in the Draper home come directly from period magazines like Life, Good Housekeeping, TV Guide — ''whatever we can get our hands on,'' says Wells. ''Ah, Bosco. Do you remember Bosco? It was the alternative to Hershey's syrup.''
''We probably have 20 cottage cheese containers,'' laughs Perello. ''I come across cottage cheese containers like you wouldn't believe.'' Thankfully, they're empty of any vintage cheese.
''There's an antique store in Long Beach that has a pretty extensive food section,'' says Perello. She always looks for national brands, because ''I can verify it in a period magazine. Borden's is gonna advertise.''
''She's kind of creepy, isn't she?'' asks Wells of Sally Draper's doll. ''I got her in Pasadena, in this antique mall. She was perfect when I found her, because, of course, it's supposed to look like a doll Sally's played with for a couple years, not for 50 years.''
Wells cheated a bit by choosing IBM Selectric typewriters, since they debuted in 1961, and Mad Men's story starts in 1960. The reason? The ball-shaped typing element (with no back- and-forth carriage) was much quieter. Older machines, she says, ''made so much noise with [all the] people typing in the background.''
This vintage piece for a secretary's desk exemplifies an odd trend: ''The dachshund showed up a lot, for some reason,'' says Wells on her research of the era. ''It was like dachshunds and poodles were the two iconic '50s/early-'60s dogs.''
''I'll take any old mail you'll wanna give me,'' says Wells. ''I'm desperate for it. Any old mail with old stamps on it is like, ooh la la. We want that bad.''
''We get as much [vintage] office stuff as we possibly can get our hands on,'' says Wells, ''because of the amount of desks that we have to dress. Those [erasers] are what we call dead stock. They're real vintage, but they've never been used.''
''I bought most of Paul's pipes at [a swap meet at] the Rose Bowl in Pasadena,'' says Perello. ''This vendor was given the keys to a barbershop that had been shut down for about 30 years. He [has] a ton of pipes, and in their package still. I bought probably six or seven pipes from him.''
Wells says ashtrays like this one are usually pretty easy to find. ''I get a lot of Murano glass, you know, the hand-blown glass ones,'' she says. ''And I get a lot of copper enamel ashtrays as well.''
''I just love the whole idea of the solitary 'D' for Draper,'' says costume head Janie Bryant of the vintage monogrammed belt buckle. (The strap is a contemporary Brooks Brothers belt.) ''It just spoke to me. It's really so much of what the character is all about.''
''You can buy vintage money,'' laughs Perello. ''It's more than face value.'' (The $10 bill you see here could go for $20.) As for the money clip, ''I let Jon Hamm pick. I'll show him three different options. He definitely has an opinion.''