Friday, July 23, 2010

Merrill Anderson's Own Mad Man

Mad Men returns for its fourth season this Sunday. At first Mad Men looked phony to me, especially the efforts at casual smoking. Now that we've watched all three seasons, I'm hooked.

The ad men I knew in the 1950s and 1960s were seldom as dapper as Don Draper. The only man who made him look like a comparative slob was John Northcross, the illustrator who worked on Merrill Anderson's U.S. Trust ads as well as campaigns for State Street and (R.I.P.) National Bank of Detroit.

John looked nothing like TV's idea of an arty type. Dark haired and handsome, he invariably turned up in Merrill Anderson's offices looking ready for a photo shoot: beautifully tailored dark blue suit, newly shined black shoes, repp tie impeccably knotted. He actually did do some modeling, I believe. When creating illustrations for U.S. Trust, he often modeled for himself.

John was our go-to art guy because he worked quickly, always understood what was wanted, and knew how affluent families of the time were supposed to dress and look.

Far as I can learn on the Web, John Northcross never became particularly well known as an illustrator. But I did find one piece of art he did for a story. I can imagine it inspiring a Mad Men episode:

In a half-vacant antique showroom, Betty Draper has a rendezvous with a handsome stranger….

1 comment:

Jim Gust said...

Great post, Jim.