Betty Draper
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Betty Draper

Mad Men

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About Her

Grew Up… in a swanky Philadelphia suburb. She comes from solid Germano-Nordic stock. After graduating from Bryn Mawr College in 1954 with a degree in Anthropology, she moved to Italy for a short time to work as a model. After this she moved to Manhattan where she met her husband, Don Draper.

Living… in Ossining, New York, a suburb north of New York City. On the surface the Drapers look like the ideal American family. There’s the nice house, the handsome husband, the two children, the two cars, and the dog. The lawn is pristine, like the street she lives on. But something seems to be missing for Betty.

Profession… stay-at-home mom for her kids Sally and Bobby. She has a full-time housekeeper, which gives her time to fit in some gossip with her neighbor and friend, Francine.

Interests… horseback riding and chatting with Francine, though the latter often does more to worry her than relax her. She’d probably be happier if she found more outlets outside the home, since motherhood isn’t really her thing and her husband is gone so much. 

Relationship Status… married. Though devoted to Don, Betty worries (with good reason) about his fidelity. Betty’s concern grows as Don spends more nights in the city and becomes more distant. She confesses to her therapist how being intimate with Don has changed: “Sometimes it’s what I want. But sometimes it’s obviously what someone else wants. I suppose it means I’m not enough. But maybe it’s just him.”

Challenge… finding purpose and happiness in life. When she was younger Betty found meaning in being pretty. She still might be the prettiest woman in the state of New York, but she’s finding she has no one to be pretty for. Her husband and children often frustrate her and renew her angst. Betty wants to be happy, but she doesn’t even know what that looks like. 

Personality… outwardly pleasant, but nervous and a little cold. She seems so well put-together that it’s easy to miss that she’s coming apart. She is generally quiet and so is her sadness, finding it difficult to confess anything to anyone, including her shrink. Betty is not a particularly affectionate mother, handling her children’s occasional misbehavior with anger and disbelief, and she is (perhaps understandably) becoming a less affectionate wife. It’s hard to see how she can keep going on like this without a major change.

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