For all Mad Men enthusiasts, I will be creating the "natal charts" for each of the three main characters of the show whose birthdays we were able to uncover: Don Draper, Peggy Olson and Joan Holloway Harris. The editors of Paper Magazine have done some digging to find the birth dates of these three -- the only characters to have their birth dates revealed on different occasions during the past five seasons of the show.
No times of birth were listed, of course, so I looked at the natal planets that were at play on the dates stated and also placed the birth in the city that approximated the place each character alluded to as a home birth city. In Joan's case, we don't know her home birth city so I had to make an educated guess based on the scarce details we know of her upbringing. I determined the ascendant sign too (also called the "rising sign"), judging by the traits and talents of each person on the show. Keep in mind that my analysis relates to the character in the story, not the actor playing the part. To discuss the actor would be a whole other article!
mad men astrology
In case you're not familiar with the term "rising sign" or "ascendant" (both terms are used interchangeably, as they have the same meaning in astrology), a rising sign is the sign found coming up over the eastern horizon at the precise minute of birth no matter what time of day that happened to be. (It does not have to be in the morning -- and rarely is for many people!). It includes a calculation of the longitude and latitude of the place of birth too. The rising sign is considered equal in importance to the Sun sign and explains why all Sun sign natives are not alike -- we are all a combination of both. Specifically, the rising sign reflects the qualities you adapted naturally to cope with life.
Now, without any more delay, let's get started with the last of our three main characters:
Creative Director and Partner of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce
In this report, PAPER editors asked me to compare Don Draper's "real" birthday, December 1, 1925 with the birthday he assumed later, June 1, 1926.
As many remember from watching Mad Men, Don Draper is really Richard Whitman. The real Don Draper was one of Richard Whitman's fellow soldiers in the Korean War who sadly died in combat. Wanting a fresh start in life, Richard Whitman switched dog tags with the fallen soldier and, from that point on, became known as Don Draper.
Why would anyone do such a thing? According to the story, Richard (the Don Draper we now know) had a very hard childhood. He was born the child of a prostitute who died in childbirth in a small town in Illinois (I chose Carpentersville). His stepmother, who resented the fact that her husband had a child out of wedlock with a prostitute, mistreated Richard (or "Dick") and wouldn't let him forget it and his father, an alcoholic, eventually passed away when Richard was still a kid. And, as we learned in the second episode of season six, Richard spent part of his childhood in a brothel, after his father passed away and his stepmother took the family to stay with her sister and her sister's lover (or husband -- it's not made clear), a pimp named "Uncle Mack." Thus, for Richard -- the Don Draper we all know and love -- home was not a happy place.
Not only did Richard take this soldier's name, but also his birth date, June 1, 1926. Richard's real birthday fell precisely six months earlier, December 1, 1925, so they shared the same axis, Gemini-Sagittarius (signs precisely six months apart), and therefore both birthdays deal with communication, and many people born in these months share an intense interest in broadcasting and publishing.
(Special note to readers: In the show's last season, during a scene celebrating Don Draper's 40th birthday party, Don says he does not want to celebrate his birthday (the June 1, 1926 his coworkers and family assume to be his date of birth) because he says he actually turned 40 six months earlier. This was an unusual revelation for Don Draper to make on the show, as he is very secretive. This clue told us that his true birthday was December 1, 1925, not December 1, 1926 as we had assumed earlier. So let's compare the two charts with this script information in mind.)
I feel the June birthday takes precedence over the old one, but let's have a look at that December 1, 1925 chart, a birthday Don Draper no longer celebrates. (This is the first time I have been asked to compare the charts of a fictitious character that stole another character's identity!)
In both charts, I have given both characters Scorpio rising for all the reasons I mention in the main article about Don Draper accompanying this one. I wrote about him concerning the June 1, 1925 chart he assumed.
Don Draper's Natal Chart (using the birthday he borrowed from the 'real' Don Draper)Richard Whitman was born on December 1, 1925 at 5:04 AM CST in Carpentersville, IL, as said, with Scorpio rising. In the June 1, 1926 chart, I feel Don Draper was born at 3:54 PM PST in Los Angeles, CA. (The script hints at Los Angeles.)
The fact that Richard Whitman's true mother was a prostitute gives extra credence to the idea Draper (Richard Whitman) has Scorpio rising, as Scorpios in general seem to have to confront matters involving sex or reproduction at some point in their lives. Scorpio rules privacy and secrecy, and that certainly describes the personality of Don Draper who seems to have carried that quality too far, into the realm of clandestine relationships and stolen identity.
The December 1, 1925 birthday of Richard Whitman shows that the person born on this day is burdened with responsibility and a proclivity for sadness or depression due to Saturn rising in Scorpio. Don would certainly have bouts of feelings of isolation and possibly abandonment (as Saturn rising is capable of imparting that feeling), and later in life may have found sex to be an antidote to a longing for closeness to a loving woman, having been forced to grow up as a motherless child. Saturn falls very close to his ascendant on both charts, and sometimes a baby born with this aspect can have a serious health concern and the baby's life may be in danger. The babies that manage to survive Saturn conjunct the ascendant in the first days of life often grow up to become very strong -- this describes our two heroes here, Richard Whitman AND Don Draper.
Interestingly, Richard Whitman is born with Venus conjunct good fortune Jupiter on December 1, 1925, giving Richard exceptional happiness and luck through the company of women. Don is a womanizer, and that certainly fits. With the time I chose for his birth, Don has Mars within two degrees of his ascendant in Scorpio, adding to his energetic sex drive. However, with Mars within eight degrees of Saturn, our hero may have approach-avoidance about sex -- needing it, but at times feeling guilty about his obsession. In his real birth chart, December 1, 1925, Pluto (obsession) in Cancer (family) is found opposite his Venus (love) in Capricorn, so his need for sex is very strong. Adding to this vibration is that I have given him Scorpio rising, and Pluto is the ruler of his ascendant -- this gives the tug of war between Venus and Pluto more weight. Jupiter (happiness) is conjunct Venus, so he finds intense pleasure from his relationships.
Don Draper's (Richard Whitman's) true natal moon is in the house ruling sex and reproduction, in the intellectual sign of Gemini, so he is able to form relationships without the depth that an emotional water sign Venus would do. In other words, he would be able to explain away his various attachments in an aloof kind of way that would make sense to him but not to the women he romances (we see this in his relationship with his neighbor, Sylvia Rosen). He knows this inside, which is why he needs to keep all his activities secret.
Don was "smart" to trade in his birthday for the real, June 1, 1926 birthday of the deceased soldier. I can't believe I just said that, but it's true -- the June chart is the better one. Uranus is found in the fourth house of home in Don Draper's "real" chart -- the December 1, 1925 chart belonging to Richard Whitman -- creating a series of unnerving change, which can be upsetting to anyone, but especially to a child. When it comes to home, children need rock solid stability and the advocacy of a parent -- something he was never able to attain.
Pluto in Cancer (the sign Cancer points to family members) is found in the December 1, 1925 chart in the eighth house of death and loss, suggesting Don may have suffered a loss of a family member at an early age -- that turned out to be the death of his mother in childbirth and, later, his father. Indeed, children like Richard Whitman, who were born with Pluto in the eighth house often are confronted with the realities of life and death at a very early age in some manner.
In the new chart that Richard took on -- that of Don Draper, June 1, 1926 -- not only is Uranus, the planet of sudden, often upsetting surprises and chaos, finally out of the home sector, it is now found in his fifth house of creativity, a place that will help him enormously in his profession. Uranus is associated with genius and in this house, it can be applied to the projects he works on. Also, now with the "new" June chart, Don has Jupiter, the giver of gifts and luck, conjunct the moon (women) in the home. This is an opposite influence of what he had before, and bodes so well for a happy home life in his future. Don was married twice, and both his wives adored and supported him (that is, until his first wife Betty discovered his secret affairs and hidden identity, prompting their divorce).
Richard Whitman's natal chartIn the old chart, December 1, 1925, Don Draper had the moon in the analytical air-sign Gemini, and in the June 1, 1926 chart that he took on, Don had the moon in air-sign Aquarius. Air signs are known to be brilliant communicators, so in either chart, Don had talent for creating exceptional advertising campaigns. His natal moon in Gemini is one of the best places for talent, which fits Don Draper's role in office of overseeing (and coming up with) campaign strategies for clients. The Gemini-Sagittarius axis represented by December 1-June 1 is always associated with, and gives talent in, communication of all kinds.
In both Richard Whitman's chart and Don Draper's chart, Neptune is prominent on the mid-heaven (the highest point in the chart, indicating one's reputation), so his work in film, photography or advertising broadcasts would be well known and garner him awards. He would be hailed for his creativity, and would also find his picture in the news. People would know who he is (or at the very least, those in his industry). Indeed, we saw this in season one after Don won an advertising award and has his photo in the paper, which is how his half-brother, Adam, ended up finding him. And, later on, we see Don win a prestigious Clio advertising award.
In Richard Whitman's December 1, 1925 chart, we find Jupiter, the giver of gifts and luck, in the third house of communication, another indication of Whitman's/Draper's natural talent with words and writing. (The third house of the horoscope is more closely associated with the left-brain analytical work than the right brain of visuals, dreams and imagination, which is more closely associated with the twelfth house. The twelfth house is the natural house ruled by Neptune, and in both the December and June charts, Don has Neptune in the house of fame and honors -- his ideas are exceptional and keep him on top.)
The third house is also associated with sisters and brothers and is a shining part of Richard Whitman's original December 1, 1925 chart. Jupiter is the planet of good fortune so Don would have been smart to get to know his brother, Adam, and establish a close tie with him. I say this because Adam would hold the keys to Don's greatest personal growth and eventual happiness. Adam had nothing to do with Don Draper's/Richard Whitman's parents' behavior. Alas, Don never established a close bond with his brother and, in fact, pushed him away. Later Adam would commit suicide, and so his sibling relationship with Adam -- and the opportunity it portended -- was tragically lost forever.
Here is a surprise: June 1, 1926 is Marilyn Monroe's real birthday. In Marilyn's real life, she changed her name from Norma Jeane Mortenson to Marilyn Monroe and by her early 30's she reached the pinnacle of her career. Marilyn married multiple times, just like Don Draper has done. She certainly had many adoring lovers, but aside from Joe DiMaggio and perhaps Arthur Miller (who both married her), most of her lovers wound up making her feel used and broken. Are the show's writers speaking to us in code by choosing Marilyn Monroe's birthday? We have to watch and see what happens. As it's been said before about Mad Men, there are really no coincidences.
As a side note I will also add that Katharine Hepburn, born May 12, 1907, actually assumed the birthday of her beloved older brother Tom (November 8,1905) after he committed suicide at age 15. She gave the press her brother's birthday instead of her own and savvy reporters noticed, although she never made a public statement about it, to my knowledge.
There are similarities to the Hepburn case in Mad Men: Katharine's brother Tom had a birthday that fell six months from hers, so both birthdays fell on the same Taurus-Scorpio axis. (In Mad Men, Don Draper's birthday fall on the same axis as Richard Whitman, Gemini-Sagittarius).
Finally, Saturn is ascendant in Don Draper's first house and that house rules not only personality but also physical vitality. Saturn's placement indicates that Don's smoking and drinking will eventually have an adverse affect on his health; Don does not seem concerned about his health now, but may well have to worry about it in the future. In one episode he ignores a sore tooth, and the dentist tells him that had he delayed coming in any longer, he could have had an abscess that may have been so severe, it could have taken away part of his jaw and changed the look of his (handsome) face. Saturn demands we follow the rules and be sensible and mature. Saturn always brings consequences to a poorly made action -- or to complete lack of action. Don would do best to take good care of his health now, while he can still do so.
Don seems to sense his past will eventually catch up with him, one way or another, for good or bad. With transiting Saturn ascendant, it makes perfect sense that Don's reflective side would start to come out. I think we are about to see a new, more contrite side to Don Draper -- one who is not only the golden boy who has gotten by with charm and good looks, but also the enlightened man who wants to consider his eventual legacy -- to the world and to his children. It looks like we will see some changes in Don, possibly revealing a new and more mature side to his character. Will he become a tragic character or an inspiring one? That decision is up to Don.
Many viewers of Mad Men have asked me on Twitter (I am @astrologyzone) if it is possible to change your birthday and change the path of your life. Alas, it is not possible. We can't really change our birthdays but in the realm of imagination, such as in the script of Mad Men, anything is possible.
If you would like Susan Miller to explain your natal chart to you in a custom 65-page book, you can go to www.SusanMillerMyPersonalHoroscope.com. Order the yellow-purple cover book, and it will be ready in approximately two weeks. Once you know your rising sign, you can find horoscopes for it, along with your Sun sign, on Miller's website, AstrologyZone.com.
More Mad Men Astrology Charts:
Joan Holloway Harris