Real-Life Peggy Olson Talks About Working During the "Mad Men" Era
"On the manual typewriter, I was 100 words a minute. That was my only claim to fame." And so begins the tale of Hilda Longinotti's 21-year tenure as "aide-de-camp" to famed designer George Nelson of the Herman Miller furniture house, brought to life in this charming four-part animated series.
When she applied to be a receptionist in 1953, Longinotti had no idea what she was in for, and she certainly didn't realize she would be working under the likes of George Nelson. A high school dropout from Queens, she happened upon the job listing while thumbing through the New York Times. "Architect" sounded fancy, so she threw her chapeau in the ring. When Longinotti walked into the office for her interview, she says she stumbled into a "world of wonders"—and never looked back.
Now, the 80-something Longinotti lends her memories and voice to The Hilda Stories, giving us another peek into the heyday of real Mad Men—but this time, not through Don Draper's whiskey-stained glasses. In the video above, Longinotti explains how a young lady had to look and act while interviewing for a job: "You have to wear a hat. You have to wear gloves. You have to wear pumps with stockings with the seams straight, and a skirt that covers the knee. And you have to be very prim and proper."
Longinotti certainly fit the part, as you can see in the photo above—so much so that she became an impromptu muse for Nelson.
"Whenever they needed a model, there I was! I was young. I was pretty. I was photogenic, and I was free ... It was one of the highlights of my career because I became the woman on the marshmallow sofa."
But Nelson gave her space—beyond just that marshmallow sofa. Longinotti evolved into more than just a pretty face perched on it. "When I started with him, I had no balls," she says. "But over the 20 years, I grew them and grew them and grew them. So I think he’d be very proud of the ballsy woman I have become today."
Watch the other two episodes here.