I recently stumbled onto an interesting discovery while watching How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying for the first time, while also re-watching some Mad Men episodes in anticipation of its new season. The film and the show both feature Robert Morse. In How to Succeed…, Morse plays the fast-rising window-washer-turned-executive J. Pierpont Finch, while in Mad Men Morse is senior partner Bertram Cooper.
How to Succeed… has not aged well. Its gender politics make it a bit of a slog to get through, but its worth watching for Morse alone. He’s delightfully eccentric here, having brought the role from Broadway to the big screen. If you’re a Mad Men fan, you’ll have an even greater appreciation for the odd stylings of Bert Cooper after watching.
But what really caught my eye were the similar tastes of Finch and Cooper. In How to Succeed…, Finch hits a road block when a Vice President figures out his quick rise to the top and decides to fire him. Finch gets the axe in the VP’s office:
Finch, though, is much too smart to be outplayed at this point in his meteoric rise. He sets up the VP, sees him fired, and becomes the company’s newest vice president. As with everything having to do with Finch, change comes quickly. By the following day, the office has been entirely re-designed for VP Finch:
By now, you probably see where I’m going. Finch shares an appreciation for Asian art and culture with one Bertram Cooper of Sterling Cooper, right down to each office prominently featuring a painted screen.
That’s some great linking you’re doing, Mad Men.
And yes, I had my doubts about this, skeptical reader. It could be a coincidence. But if the Robert Morse link isn’t enough, and if Finch’s rise to the head of the company (which sells the top-selling-if-vague wickets, in case you’re wondering), how about this final piece of evidence: Finch fills a number of roles in How to Succeed…, but his title in the office photographed at the top?
Vice President of Advertising.