It's a Mad World

“Mad Men” Creator Reveals Why He Fired the Gay Character

SAL-BELLHOP-MAD-MENWith Mad Men returning April 7, the world eagerly awaits to see what’s it store for Don Draper, not to mention how the show’s wardrobe department will handle Jon Hamm’s battle of the bulge as the series moves into the tight-trousered late ’60s. Yet many queer fans are still smarting over the departure of closeted gay Sal Romano during season 3 and, rest assured, series creator Matthew Weiner empathizes with our anguish.

The Sterling Cooper art director, memorably played with just the right amount of swish by Bryan Batt, was a victim of the time. Although married to a female, he still yearned for fulfillment with a man, when he wasn’t busy swooning to Ann-Margret movies, that is. Romano was unceremoniously fired from the ad agency after he rebuffed the advances of a drunken male client.

It was a move that surprised and angered many hardcore fans, but Weiner says that while it was a tough decision, it was necessary in the interest of historical accuracy.

“More than with any other character, I’ve had lots of conversations about that,” Weiner tells Wall Street Journal. “I wanted to tell the story of how incredibly unfair it was for Sal, and that’s the sacrifice I made. It’s a gigantic moment in the series.”

As the series heads into its penultimate season, here’s hoping Sal makes a return in time to raise hell at the Stonewall riots.

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  • MikeE

    there are still two more seasons of Mad Men?

  • Karin E. Baker

    One of my favorite Sal Romano moments: when he and Kitty were watching Jackie Kennedy’s televised tour of the White House. The way Sal asked “Where’s her husband?” was priceless.

  • PSPoolside

    Now we are in the late 60’s I’d love to see a more powerful Sal return, perhaps with his own agency and give Sterling Cooper hell. It’s time for the creatives to take over the business and leave the well packed suits behind.

  • Zep

    @PSPoolside: Still way too soon, I’m afraid.

  • AEH

    I’m pretty sure Sal died young. He probably came out as gay in the ’70s and enjoyed the fruits of the sexual revolution…and succumbed to a mysterious disease in the ’80s.

  • TVC 15

    @AEH: I’ve never watched the show (I work in advertising myself), but I’m sure that’s how his story would turn out. Or, he could be one of the survivors who live to tell of the terrible tragedy of that period.


    It was unfortunate, but kept the series true to the times. I do hope they can get some mention in of Stonewall, but I can’t figure how they could fit it into the story unless Max is arrested and someone mentions it.

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