John and Marsha

For those wondering about Peggy and Joey repeatedly referring to John and Marsha on the season premiere of Mad Men, the audio of Stan Freberg’s 1951 recording is above. The reason for this is still not clear. Literature professor Toril Moi offered some ideas:

I’m also interested in why Peggy and her assistant Joey keep enacting Stan Freberg’s 1951 satirical novelty hit “John and Marsha” (widely available on YouTube.) Why do the characters obsess about a 1951 hit in the 1960s? Is it a sly hint that Freberg may be one of the models for Don Draper’s character? For Freberg wasn’t just a radio personality, he is also considered to be one of the fathers of really creative advertising. In the late 1950s, Freberg introduced humor and satire in advertising, creating famous TV campaigns for Heinz soups and Sunsweet pitted prunes, among others. There are parallels here to Don Draper’s success with the cinematic plot-like structure of his floor cleaner campaign which he watches alone in his gloomy apartment.

To get back to Peggy and her male assistant. Playing at “John and Marsha” with her underling is surely not a particularly bossy move. It may be another indication that she doesn’t actually fear losing authority: she is confident that she has earned her place. But how many career women in the 1960s had male assistants?

Update: More on the season premiere of Mad Men has been posted here.

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