Raise Your Glass: A Final Toast to Mad Men’s Ken Cosgrove
Friends, we said goodbye to a beloved T.V. character recently. No, I’m not talking about Don or Roger, not Peggy or Joan. I’m talking about one of the greatest Account Men to ever drive a riding mower through an Ad Agency on Madison Ave. That’s right, we’re talking about Ken Cosgrove.
Sure, we all loved Don’s brilliance. And Roger, with his witty one-liners, was the life of every party. But if you had to choose one of our beloved Mad Men characters to emulate, you’d be hard-pressed to do better than Ken Cosgrove. Some of you casual fans and latecomers might be asking yourself “Ken who? You mean that guy with the eye patch?” And while its true Ken’s story dwindled significantly over the last few seasons, he was still the best. This list will remind you of all the ways that Ken was amazing.
- Ken didn’t suffer from insecurity.
Unlike Pete, who constantly compared his insides with everyone’s outsides, Ken was entirely comfortable in his own skin.
- Ken was a natural in all environments.
Ken is from Vermont, went to Columbia and was in the Navy. Think about that. He is equally comfortable baiting a hook, jetting around Manhattan and patrolling the high seas.
- Ken lost an eye to the Chevy Executives on a hunting trip.
My love for Ken was confirmed in this moment, for I thought for sure he was a goner. My heart sank. Tears filled my eye(s). But no, just some birdshot to the face. All a part of being an Accounts Man for Chevy. Man, those guys know how to have a good time.
- Ken got shot up with enough speed to kill a horse and tap-danced with a cane well enough to shame Fred Astaire.
Where did Ken learn how to tap dance? In Vermont? College? The Navy? Maybe he was born with it and just needed enough of Dr. Feelgood’s secret serum to unleash it on an unsuspecting world? We will never know.
- Ken’s story, “Tapping a Maple on a Cold Vermont Morning”, was published in the Atlantic.
My God, what a title. Who wouldn’t read that story? Not a single person, that’s who.
- Ken had written so many sci-fi short stories that he had to parse down the list when he was considering getting a collection ready for print.
Meanwhile, Pete had to guilt his wife to call in a favor with an old flame so he could get his story published in Boy’s Life. Boys Life!!
- Ken made a pass at Peggy in the pilot episode.
Well, maybe he shouldn’t have done that.
- Ken wore the hell out of that eye patch.
- Ken’s wardrobe was BASED on the brown/olive suit! (See above)
Most men will sprinkle in a brown/olive suit every other week, something to mix it up. But not Ken. No, Ken uses the brown/olive suit as his foundation. Ken sprinkles in grey and navy, thank you very much.
- ‘The Man with the Miniature Orchestra’ by Dave Algonquin.
“There were phrases of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony that still made Coe cry. He always thought it had to do with the circumstances of the composition itself. He imagined Beethoven deaf and soul-sick, his heart broken, scribbling furiously while Death stood in the doorway, clipping his nails. Still, Coe thought, it might have been living in the country that was making him cry. It was killing him with its silence and loneliness – making everything ordinary, too beautiful to bear.”
- Ken was the definition of a perfect Accounts Man.
Here’s Lane Pryce describing Ken when telling Pete that he was making Ken Head of Accounts: “It’s become apparent that you (Pete) are excellent at making the clients feel their needs are being met. But Mr. Cosgrove has the rare gift of making them feel as if they haven’t any needs.” BOOM! Take that, Pete.
- Ken was the one who found out SCDP was losing Lucky Strike.
A perfect example of Ken being a perfect Accounts Man. Always in the right place at the right time.
- Ken had dinner at Sal’s house and was oblivious to the fact that Sal was smitten with him.
In fact, I believe Ken is partly at fault for ending Sal’s marriage. Sal’s wife, bless her heart, couldn’t compete with the effortless charm radiating from Ken, the all-American blue blood, eating his mashed potatoes with a polite yet oblivious smile. Its over, lady. You’ve been Cosgroved
- Ken was responsible for Harry Crane’s rise to Head of the TV Department, and thus, his rise to King of all Scumbags.
I believe Harry’s ascent to Casting Couch Overlord began the moment he “accidentally” opened Ken’s paycheck, revealing how much more Ken was being paid. Kens success turned Harry into a sleazy creep willing to do anything to feel important. This journey began with him demanding a raise from Roger and culminates in season 7 with him propositioning Megan Draper in exchange for a role in a TV show. Or a commercial. Or maybe he just propositioned her for the hell of it. Ken’s “bossness” was the catalyst for all of this.
- Ken landed the John Deere account, which led him to bring in the John Deere riding mower for a joy ride around the office to gloat/celebrate, which led to Guy MacKendrick getting his foot cut off.
This single scene set in motion events that would lead to Sterling Cooper breaking free of PPL and starting again as SCDP. Who knows what would have happened had Guy MacKendrick kept his foot. Thanks Ken!
- Ken went to Roger’s Kentucky Derby party stag.
- Ken was happy for Pete when they were made Co-Heads of Accounts.
Meanwhile, Pete acted like a true ass and showed his smallness, as usual.
- Ken valued his personal life over his business life.
Two examples: First, when Roger and Don try to force him to use his relationship with his Father-in-Law at Dow Chemical to get a meeting for SCDP, Ken tells them to kick rocks, says its not worth messing up his “actual” life. Roger and Don stare back with flummoxed looks. Second, when Roger tells him to quit writing his short stories (even though Roger is writing his memoirs) because being an Accounts Man for Sterling Cooper is an “all the time” job, Ken just changes his pen name and keeps on writing. Ken knows what’s important, and he wont compromise.
- Ken stood up to Ferg Donnelly, who proved to be a huge creep.
Ferg got all butt hurt that Ken took Birdseye Frozen Foods from McCann when he left for SCDP, and fired Ken as soon as he had the chance. You know what Ferg? That’s called being a good Accounts Man, something you wouldn’t know about. Pick a weekend, Ferg.
- Ken went to Dow Chemical after being fired by Ferg (and Roger), made so much from his signing bonus that he refused his severance (“It’d feel like a second helping”) and became Roger and Pete’s client.
“And I hate to tell you, but I’m very hard to please”
- Ken was responsible for the launch of Joan’s start up production company, Holloway-Harris.
Ken gave Joan a check for $50,000 to find a producer for an in-house film for Dow. That’s $50K in 1970 folks. Adjusted for inflation, that’s $300K in 2015 dollars. Just gave it to her. And you know Ken knew Joan was going to do it herself. Ken sees the potential for greatness in people.
- Ken never cheated on his wife.
I’ll repeat, he never cheated on his wife!
- Ken publicly shamed Freddy Rumsen for his wife enjoying the “relaxaciser”.
Maybe not the most gentlemanly thing to do, especially in a room full of colleagues, but that’s the beauty of Ken Cosgrove. He isn’t predictable. He has a rascally streak in him that will keep you on your toes.
- Ken had amazing pen names:
Ben Hargrove. Dave Algonquin.
- “I’m gonna stand and salute that.”
I will miss you Ken. Your place is forever cemented in my heart as the greatest second third-tier character of Televisions Golden Age.