According to Jon Hamm, the production's pursuit of historical accuracy is such, that series researchers will insist on knowing weather conditions, news items, popular culture for a particular period related to the script's time frame.
The actors do not smoke real cigarettes, they smoke Ecstacy herbal cigarettes which are tobacco and nicotine free. Show creator Matthew Weiner said in a New York Times article "You don't want actors smoking real cigarettes," he said. "They get agitated and nervous. I've been on sets where people throw up, they've smoked so much.". When asked what it's like to smoke herbal cigarettes, Jon Hamm (who plays Don Draper) told Vulture, "Terrible. They taste like a mixture between pot and soap."
At a 2013 Q&A session at the Paley Center for Media, Matthew Weiner said that he had already told his wife and a few writers about how he plans to end the whole series. He also said that "he's been told it's a disaster, but he's going with it [anyway]."
The titles pay homage to graphic designer Saul Bass's skyscraper-filled opening titles for Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest (1959) and falling man movie poster for Vertigo (1958); Weiner has listed Hitchcock as a major influence on the visual style of the series.
Mad Men counts Barack Obama among its fans. Obama sent a fan letter to Matthew Weiner following Season 3, telling him how much he enjoys the show. A stunned and flattered Weiner keeps the letter from Obama in a frame on the wall outside of his office.
In 2012, costume designer Janie Bryant told "Slate" that she always repeats one of Peggy's costumes from the previous season during the next season's premiere. Bryant said that she "[loves] that tradition for Peggy because I think that this all is really based in reality. That's what we would do in real life: We repeat our clothes."
January Jones originally auditioned (twice) for the role of Peggy Olson before Matthew Weiner asked her to read for the part of Betty Draper instead, despite the fact that at that point the character was barely in the pilot and he had no plans of fleshing her out.
According to January Jones, she had some doubts about taking the role because she hadn't had much to do on the first episodes, but she decided to trust her instincts on Betty having rich plots coming up.
During a 2013 interview in the New York Times Magazine, the interviewer, Andrew Goldman, asked Elisabeth Moss (who plays Peggy) if she though the Don-Peggy relationship would "ever be consummated, given the obvious sexual tension between them?" Moss's reply was, "I hope not. Anyone who sleeps with Don does not have a long road ahead of them. It's like the kiss of death to sleep with Don. I really think it would be jumping the shark to do that."
Jon Hamm confirmed that the beverages consumed on the show are non-alcoholic, pointing out that the shooting schedule is actually very hectic and that he would never drink during the day on camera or off.
Sally's teacher is first introduced on the show dancing around a maypole with her students. The teacher character is named Suzanne Farrell, after one of the most famous American ballerinas of the 1960s, '70s, and '80s.
As of the start of the fifth season, the role of Robert "Bobby" Draper has been played by four different child actors. Bobby was originally played by Maxwell Huckabee; Huckabee was replaced with Aaron Hart toward the end of the first season; Hart was replaced with Jared Gilmore by the start of the third season; and Gilmore was replaced with Mason Vale Cotton starting with season five. It is particularly notable that Hart was replaced since he is the youngest actor ever to win a SAG Award (which he won for playing Bobby Draper).
Matthew Weiner wrote the pilot of Mad Men in 1999 while working on the Ted Danson sitcom Becker (1998). In 2002, Weiner sent the pilot as a writing sample to David Chase, who created The Sopranos (1999).
Matthew Weiner shot the pilot on the hiatus between the two parts of season 6 of The Sopranos, and he used a lot of the crew from the HBO show to do it. David Chase agreed to help him in what he could, but making sure that Weiner would come back to wrote the last episodes of The Sopranos.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
In 2008, show creator Matt Weiner told The Chicago Tribune that Peggy and Pete's son was given up for adoption (as she told Pete) and is not being raised by Peggy's sister or mother. Weiner also said that the misdirection to make the audience think that the son is being raised by Peggy's sister was deliberate. In 2013, Weiner expanded on this at a Q&A session at the Paley Center for Media. Weiner said that Pete and Peggy's child is "gone into the Catholic church's adoption system... it's untraceable, you can't find your birth parents. I guess you could now, but it's pretty hard."
Clips from and references to the movie and the song Bye Bye Birdie (1963) pervade much of the third season. It had already been established in previous seasons that Don's affectionate pet name for Betty is "Birdy;" since the third season ends with Betty flying to Reno to divorce Don, the prominence of the song is the showrunner's nod to the fact that the third season is the one in which Don must literally say "bye bye" to his wife, "Birdy."
During the show's first season, an elaborate, multi-stage makeup and costuming process was developed by costume designer Janie Bryant and makeup department head Debbie Zoller for actress Elisabeth Moss to simulate Peggy's weight gain. Bryant created several body suits with different levels of padding for Moss to wear under her costumes. Zoller made four stages of facial prosthetics, starting with a fairly subtle piece to augment Moss's chin and neck, and then added increasing cheek pieces to create the illusion that she was slowly becoming significantly heavier. During the filming of the fifth season, the makeup artists repeated the process--this time for January Jones, the actress who plays Betty (Draper) Francis. Although the storyline in which Betty gained a great deal of weight was initially contrived in anticipation of having to explain Jones's pregnancy, Jones didn't gain anything close to the amount of weight that the showrunners intended for Betty to gain, so the makeup artists dressed Jones in a fat suit and covered her face and neck in prosthetic makeup appliances to simulate Betty's weight gain. They also employed a larger body double to film a scene in which heavier Betty gets out of the bath.