By Ralph Hipp
In TV Land, not the cable channel, but the real land of television (and now DVD) they work just blocks from each other in Manhattan, New York City during the 1960s.
Donald Hollinger is the bright, talented magazine reporter and writer who is dating Anne Marie (Marlo Thomas) in the former hit TV series "That Girl."
Donald Draper is the brilliant and troubled genius who's battling to keep his new advertising agency afloat in AMC's critically acclaimed "Mad Men."
I doubt they actually knew each other, this being TV land and everything, but in a parallel universe where these two Dons of the Sixties.. their lives couldn't be much more different. In "That Girl," Donald Hollinger gets involved in escapades like encouraging Anne Marie to go ahead and walk past the star of the Broadway show Anne is appearing in, even though the legendary Ethel Merman is chilling, and just eating a hamburger in her dressing room. Donald also goes over with Anne, the pros and cons of accepting $2,000 for a trunk from her vaudeville performing uncle, even though the junk trunk is a family treasure. Milton Berle and Danny Thomas (Marlo Thomas' real-life dad) agree to let Anne Marie perform for the Friars Club in Hollywood in exchange for the contents of the trunk.
Just down the street, Donald Draper of "Mad Men" is cracking under the strain of his new agency, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce in its second tumultuous year of operation in his television world. His marriage to Betty crumbled after she finally cracked the mystery of Don's false identity. This Donald is impressive in creating new identities for himself. Now this massive case of identity theft from Don's military service in the Korean War could not only undo him, but the entire agency, after he mistakenly signs off on a document asking for security clearance. It would allow his fledgling agency to help sell high-tech 60s hardware for a giant corporation doing business with the Pentagon.
I'd say Donald Hollinger's got it made with "that girl," and Donald Draper is pretty well screwed, if you'll pardon the expression.
On the sex front, BTW, Donald Hollinger sleeps alone in the bed in his apartment.. eek, he is only engaged to Anne Marie and under no circumstances would they be seen in bed together during the run of the TV series from 1966 to 1971. Heck, Donald Draper and his office couch are best friends. Don D. just "couched" not bedded his receptionist last week in a one-night stand, before heading back to his apartment and agreeing to be comforted and held by the other woman he's sleeping with.
I swear folks, these two Donalds were both living in the 60s and working just down the street from each other. My, my how far television portrayals have come in the last 50 years.. and I just had to tell you how funny I thought this was! Write me back this week and let me know if you really prefer the sweet, sugary shows that were actually filmed in the 60s or the cold, hard realities of the TV series we're seeing now. Ralph ("That Girl" and "Mad Men" are both available on DVD. "Mad Men" airs Sunday night on AMC.)