Props of Mad Men

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34 Responses to “Props of Mad Men”

  1. GeekMan says:

    Awesome. I love Mad Men. And it’s the kind of show prop masters must dream about.

  2. Tdawwg says:

    that is because the couch is set dressing, and the interview is with the Prop Master. If the interview was with the Set Designer, they might talk about that fainting couch.

    Incorrect. It’s a prop if an actor interacts with it. Fail.

    tdawwg- you can bet there was a “discussion” in the production meeting about which department was going to have to find/make the vagina couch. If Buckwald didn’t discuss it, he won. And by “win” I mean that couch did not have to come out of his budget or be found by his crew. No one argues to have to do more work. This show is a very heavy prop, costume and set show. There is WAY more work than there is time or budget. Your wiki “theatrical prop” definition would not win you many friends on set. No go run along and tell props and costumes which department has to deal with eye glasses and walking sticks.

    Oy. I don’t care what you think you know about backstage politics on the show’s set, or what the various employees of the show do or don’t do: nice of you to offer ungrounded, fictional speculations, though. It’s a prop, get over it. The point isn’t who paid for it, or even who made it: definitionally, it’s a prop.

  3. Anonymous says:

    As has ben discused in other forums, the problem isn’t so much that they were using Selectrics, which were only a year away, but that they were using SelectricII’s that came out in the 70s. The Typewriter in the photo is a Selectric, but they had pleny of the boxier selectric IIs out in the office.

    • theturtle says:

      In that time period it was much more likely you’d have had either manual Royals or, if it was IBM, an IBM Executive, which was a conventional type-bar unit. Selectrics were expensive and didn’t replace manual typewriters completely until well into the 1970s.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I guess that Set Dressing House doesn’t roll off the tongue as well as prop house. Also, the original Time Life Chair that Don is leaning back in had a 4 star base not 5.

  5. ROSSINDETROIT says:

    Right or wrong, the Selectric is one awesome business machine. We bought a Correcting Model 2 in 1982 for a price that today would purchase a desk full of decent laptops.

  6. IMSA12 says:

    My father was a talented designer of consumer products for Corning Glass Works in the early 1960′s and 70′s. I’ve seen his now-iconic work appear in some movies that depict mid/upper class kitchens of the time, and now his designs appear in the Draper kitchen (last season) and on the stove of Don’s girlfriend this season.
    I really enjoy all of the design/artistic references that get included in the whole Mad Men scene, but I wonder if any of the ad agencies of the time really were cool enough to be hanging the likes of Marc Rothko on their office walls.

  7. Tdawwg says:

    I want to know where Betty Draper’s vagina couch, on display in current episodes, came from. It’s lovely, haunting, and absurd all at the same time. The interview is lamentably silent on this point.

    • Anonymous says:

      that is because the couch is set dressing, and the interview is with the Prop Master. If the interview was with the Set Designer, they might talk about that fainting couch.

  8. seandavid010 says:

    Ah, the IBM Selectric (sigh) an amazing machine. I have a Selectric III that I use just about every day, and I adore it. There’s something visceral about a typewriter that you just don’t get in a computer.

  9. Blue says:

    >Furniture is not a prop.

    What if you hit someone with it?

    • Brainspore says:

      …or if you just use a chair to prop your tired ass up?

    • Anonymous says:

      A couch is never a prop. A lamp may become a prop if someone is hit by it and it needs to be manufactured. Plenty of times on set a piece of furniture is thrown or shoved. I was also the propmaster on The Shield, and there was plenty throwing of furniture. Saying props are anything an actor touches or carries is a very quick overview of the job of the propmaster. In reality the job covers much greater ground. Decals on a taxi or police car are props as are vehicle license plates. A police badge is a prop. Reason? Who knows. It just evolved that way.

      _Scott Buckwald

  10. Stefan Jones says:

    I remember those old cans. Solid and heavy, with a seam.

    Pull-tabs were a new thing when I was a kid; many brands didn’t have them.

    I’d love to see the Draper kids eating Drakes Cakes.

  11. Jeff says:

    Unfortunate, then, that they continually get their fonts wrong:

    http://www.marksimonson.com/article/236/mad-men-mad

    And it’s continued this season. Anyone see that horrible desk plaque Trudy gave Pete?

  12. Anonymous says:

    after the premier i quit watching mad men. i lived through all of that hype/misogynic era and i find the show depressing. in a way that’s a tribute to the realism the producer has achieved.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for clearing up the Selectric issue, which along with the square-button key telephones, would not have been in Sterling Cooper’s office in 1963. BUT, I agree that the Producer can have his creative way (just don’t go on and on about spot-on accuracy)..by newark phone-guy.

  14. Anonymous says:

    my dream job…

  15. Chris Tucker says:

    A modular telephone handset and a pair of pantyhose DID find their way into Mad Men, but for the most part, they’ve done a fine job in keeping it accurate to the times.

  16. TikiHead says:

    I have Don Draper’s waste basket.

  17. webmonkees says:

    It’s also a bit fun to play propmaster/time warp at home; Slowly building a mid-70s office with a vintage electric typewriter, Texas Instruments LED calculator, etc. Side benefit is that it’s both cheap (thrift shop) and durable (built better).

    Sure, there’s ebay, but that takes the fun out of discovery at the dollar table or flea market.

    At worst, a day’s worth of teardown and cleanup and it’s good as new. And very fun to use a real stand mixer with metal mixing bowls. Just set that thing in motion and it’s both kinetic and culinary entertainment.

  18. Tdawwg says:

    From Wikipedia:

    A theatrical property, commonly referred to as a prop, is any object held or used on stage by an actor for use in furthering the plot or story line of a theatrical production. Smaller props are referred to as “hand props”. Larger props may also be set decoration, such as a chair or table.

    There’s not much mystery to this, folks: Betty’s vagina couch is a prop, not mere set dressing. She practically makes love to the damn thing.

    • Anonymous says:

      From the Propmaster’s Mouth: The couch is not a prop as in the domain of the prop department. Anything used on a set can be called a prop in a pop culture sense, but a couch (even if it is thrown) is set decorating. I was the propmaster on Mad Men and that is not just how it works on that show but all U.S films and TV. Props can also include all firearms, food, license plates on cars as well as decals to make a car a Police Car. Props also does, rings and watches. There are times when props and set decorating work together such as the throwing of a table lamp. Props may have the lamp copied in a breakaway material safe for on set throwing.

      Oh Yeah!!

      Scott

    • Anonymous says:

      tdawwg- you can bet there was a “discussion” in the production meeting about which department was going to have to find/make the vagina couch. If Buckwald didn’t discuss it, he won. And by “win” I mean that couch did not have to come out of his budget or be found by his crew. No one argues to have to do more work. This show is a very heavy prop, costume and set show. There is WAY more work than there is time or budget. Your wiki “theatrical prop” definition would not win you many friends on set. No go run along and tell props and costumes which department has to deal with eye glasses and walking sticks.

  19. Michael Leddy says:

    “Buckwald: Well, pencils are pencils.”

    Well, sort of. Well-made pencils always had (and still have) distinctive ferrules — not the plain aluminum we now see on cheap pencils. Some great pencils, like the Blackwing and Mongol, are no longer made or not easily available. I’d like to see some in Mad Men.

  20. Anonymous says:

    theturtle => yes, but there are good reasons for the producers to prefer Selectrics. You can have the actresses (and even the typewriter in Don’s office would probably be used by his secretary) pretend to be typing with the machine turned off. You can’t really do that with a moving carriage machine because the carriage would be still, a dead giveway.

  21. caipirina says:

    I still can’t explain WHY i (and many others) love this show so much … I keep wondering … it’s a bit like watching the sims, 1960ies style … or a very fascinating aquarium … in terms of storylines, not much happens, or is left unresolved, just hinted at … but maybe this is what makes it so great .. and just fun to watch!

    And it shows how well SNL can be used to promote shows (otherwise I would still not know who Jon Hamm is … )

  22. Anonymous says:

    Tdawwg, the coach is set dressing, and would have been sourced and provided by the Set Decorator. Anything that gets picked up or “used” by an actor or extra would be a prop.

    • Tdawwg says:

      Err, no, I’m talking about a “couch,” not a “coach.” And properties are portable: they needn’t be just be pick-up-able. Betty sits on and interacts with the couch a lot: it’s her vagina couch!

      Do you even watch the show?

      • klg19 says:

        I watch the show religiously, and I agree with Anonymous. The “fainting couch” is set dressing, and is the province of set design, not props. Furniture is not a prop.

  23. jfrancis says:

    Wow, mad props!

    :D

  24. samsonkg says:

    i’m surprised no one brought up the john deere tractor. was that a prop or was it set dressing? or was it set dressing that became a prop after running over the Brit’s foot? ;-)

  25. Practical Archivist says:

    Now I want to run away and source historically accurate props for Tinsel Town. Any job openings?

  26. Anonymous says:

    Given the outstanding work that has gone into making this show an accurate depiction of the time, the typewriter mistake is unforgivable. They might as well have fax machines in the background and cell phones on their hips.

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