On last night's Mad Men most of the principle characters learned about the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. at an advertising awards ceremony. As a structural conceit it worked, bringing the men and women of (and formerly of) Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce together to experience the tragic moment, while also showing how disconnected their white world of privilege could be as the ceremony continued. This key moment, however, was not just some smart move concocted inside the Mad Men writers' room. No, this scene basically wrote itself — because it really happened.
Ad Age confirmed with the Advertising Club of New York that the the Fourth Annual Andy Awards did, in fact, take place on the night of April 4, 1968, and there's a New York Times article to prove it. Philip H. Dougherty, who wrote an advertising column for the Times, reported on the event. His report, which you can read in full here, plays out exactly like the episode:
Dougherty added that the "program was halted for about 10 minutes as many people rushed to the phones." It then resumed, as the ceremony did in the episode. We've reached out to AMC and creator Matthew Weiner for comment on just how else the scene came to be.