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“Mad Men”: An Obsessive’s Guide to Cultural References (Season 6, Ep. 5)

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By Craig Hubert | As obsessive watchers of Mad Men, we love pulling out the rich layers of period references, some more obvious than others, that the writers squeeze into every episode. So far, we’ve seen Bing Crosby’s “Just a Gigolo,” a few mentions of Johnny Carson, the Electric Circus, and a whole lot more. This week, in an episode focusing on the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. titled “The Flood,” we have the a famous actor briefly entering the world of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, Planet of the Apes, and a famous easy-listening song over the end credits.

Paul Newman

This moment in the episode, when the actor Paul Newman, whose Cool Hand Luke was most likely just out of theaters, speaks at the dinner honoring the top advertising campaigns of the year, may have seemed a little odd and out of place. But it’s actually loosely based on a real event, where Newman, giving an address at an advertising event, announced his support of Eugene McCarthy and spoke out against the Vietnam War, before somebody from the audience interrupted him to let everyone know that Martin Luther King, Jr. had been shot.

Planet of the Apes

Don takes Bobby to see Planet of the Apes, starring Charlton Heston, hoping it will take his mind of the assassination of King. Turns out he had no clue the original Apes film is a thinly veiled racial allegory. This is the sort of references that Mad Men is really great at implementing without making it seem too pedantic.

“Love Is Blue” by Paul Mauriat

Even though many young viewers won’t recognize this song at all, it was actually quite popular. Paul Mauriat’s instrumental version of “Love is Blue” is the only number-one hit by a French artist to top the Billboard Hot 100 in America, for five weeks in February and March 1968.

Image: Michael Yarish/AMC

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