Meet Joy Golden: The Real Peggy Olsen

"They call me, you know, a legend," said Joy Golden. We were at the Selling the Sixties screening and I had just asked her if she was the real Peggy Olsen. She is, in fact, one of them.

Golden is 79 — "I say 80 because it's more impressive" — and worked as a copywriter on Madison Avenue until the eighties, when she started her own radio advertising company, Joy Radio. It was exclusively focused on humorous radio, "because I'm funny." Here she is doing an AMC promo for Mad Men, part of a series of Madison Avenue legends. She admits to "hanking and panking — but it was always elegant."


What was it like to be among the first generation of women in advertising? "At the time I didn't think about it. I really didn't," she said. "I was just happy to get a job right out of college. I didn't think about the social aspects of it." As she rose through the ranks, Golden learned how to assert herself. "By the time you go to be a copywriter you were no longer in the secretarial pool. I learned not to be a pushover, just like Peggy in the series."

In Selling The Sixties, in a segment originally taped for Mad Men DVD extras (above), Golden talks more about on what life was like for a woman in advertising back then. "You just had to kind of keep away from the guys, at least I did. I was cute in those days so they used to knock on my cubicle, so to speak. 'You wanna have lunch?' 'No.'" (Bonus: legendary journalist Gay Talese says there were no attractive women at The New York Timesat the time because they were all in advertising.) Overall, she was thrilled by the work itself and the excitement around it.

But it didn't last. "Things changed," Golden told me. "What happened is, it became technological creative rather than creative creative… so we all kind of lost our hearts."

Right around them, George Lois came by to chat. Earlier, he had explained that he had been getting dozens of emails telling him he was right about Vogue. Golden complained that he and Gay Talese had been cut off from their Esquire reminiscences in the panel earlier that night.


"I was kind of getting to a punchline, wherever I was," Lois said. "I'm always about to get to a punchline."

"That's the story of life," said Golden. As Lois left, she said coquettishly, "Do you kiss old ladies?"


"Of course I do," he said, leaning in affectionately. "I kiss old ladies who are eighty but look like they're sixty." He left, promising to do a Jezebel interview.

A few minutes later, Golden turned to me. By way of goodbye, she said, "You have my permission to make me famous again."



Joy wrote clever copy for everything from cosmetics to beer snacks, found her true voice writing funny radio ads (e.g, Laughing Cow Cheese) and worked her butt off raising two daughters. I should know. I'm one of them and I'm so proud of her.