Pete Campbell

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Pete Campbell
Mad Men character
File:Pete Campbell Wiki.jpg
Vincent Kartheiser as Pete Campbell.
First appearance "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" (1.01)
Last appearance "Person to Person" (7.14)
Created by Matthew Weiner
Portrayed by Vincent Kartheiser
Nickname(s) "Pete"
Occupation Account Executive, Partner: Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce
Account Executive
Co-Head of Accounts: Sterling Cooper
Family Andrew Campbell (deceased father)
Dorothy Dyckman-Campbell (deceased mother)
Spouse(s) Trudy Campbell (wife)
Children A son (with Peggy Olson)
Tammy Campbell (with Trudy)
Romances Peggy Olson (ex-lover)
Beth Dawes (lover)

Peter Dyckman "Pete" Campbell (born February 28, 1934) is a fictional character on AMC's television series Mad Men. He is portrayed by Vincent Kartheiser.

Kartheiser has won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series twice along with the cast of Mad Men.[1] He is the only actor out of the six main cast members of Mad Men to not receive a Primetime Emmy Award nomination.


Pete Campbell was born to a upper-crust White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Manhattan family. His mother Dorothy "Dot" Campbell née Dykeman is descended from an old Dutch family that had arrived in New Amsterdam and at one point 'owned pretty much everything north of 125th street'. Pete has a strained relationship with his parents, who are emotionally distant and who disapprove of their son's decision to go into advertising. In Season Two, after his father dies in a plane crash over Jamaica Bay, Pete is unable to cry. Upon their father's death, Pete's older brother Bud examines their father's finances in relation to their inheritance from the family trust. Bud discovers that their father depleted the money put into the trust through years of a lavish lifestyle. When Bud tells Pete this news, they both seem unsurprised by their father's actions. Following this, Pete states that he in fact hated his father.

Later in Season Two, Pete reveals that he also hates his mother. Bud also resents his parents, but is treated and regarded by both parents as the favored son. Displaying a mutual resentment of their mother, Bud and Pete reminisce over Alfred Hitchcock's film Rope, loosely based on the story of Leopold and Loeb. When Pete's mother suggests that any possibility of Pete and his wife Trudy adopting a child would be unacceptable and lead to his being disinherited, Pete retaliates by telling her that their life savings have been squandered by his father. This originally was intended as a secret that Pete and Bud meant to keep from her. In Season six, when Pete's mother is forced to live with him in his apartment, he takes pleasure in exploiting her developing Alzheimer's disease to control her.

In the first season, Pete often expresses a desire to be treated seriously in business and displays a genuine knack for it but is unwilling to put in work and seems overly willing to get by on his family name. He can also appear spiteful and cold to people he feels have mistreated him in some way. Pete is said to have attended Deerfield Academy and Dartmouth College, and it is implied that he was in the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity at the latter. Unlike many other characters, he is a nonsmoker.

At Sterling Cooper

Pete is an account executive at Sterling Cooper until December 1963, when he leaves to join Don Draper's new firm.[2] His position at Sterling Cooper entails not only arranging meetings with clients, but also wining and dining them (and occasionally, arranging meetings for them with prostitutes). Early in the show, he appears to be unsatisfied with his position and would rather work on the creative end. To this end, he attempts to undermine Draper several times by pitching his own copy to clients. One of these occurrences nearly gets him fired, but after it becomes clear that he was hired based solely on his family connections, he is allowed to remain at his post.

At the beginning of Season Three, Pete is promoted to Head of Accounts by the new British management. He is overjoyed until he discovers that he is actually a "co-head" of the department, sharing the position with Ken Cosgrove. Pete becomes enraged and lashes out at Cosgrove, despite the fact that it is clear that the new management intends to play the two off each other.[3] He later distinguishes himself in the position, however, particularly by helping the firm appeal to the previously untapped "Negro market".[4]

Pete later joins the new agency formed by Sterling, Cooper, Draper and Lane Pryce, with the understanding that he is to become a partner, bringing his clients with him to their new company.[2]

At McCann-Erickson

After the absorption of SCP into McCann, Pete successfully brings over his clients and becomes well liked at the new office. In the series finale, Duck Phillips approaches Pete with a lucrative job offer in Wichita with Lear Jet, which he flatly refuses at first but later accepts.[5]

Marriage and relationships

Pete marries Trudy Vogel (portrayed by Alison Brie), a young woman from a nouveau riche family, in March 1960. It is implied that Pete does not know her very well before he marries her; after their honeymoon, he tells his coworkers that she is much funnier than he imagined her to be.[6] The two purchase an apartment on Park Avenue in New York City's Upper East Side. Pete's parents refuse to help the couple pay for the apartment, but Trudy's parents eventually pitch in, much to Pete's discomfort. Trudy's parents also begin to pressure the couple to begin trying to have a baby, something Pete is reluctant to do.

After 18 months of trying to conceive, the two attend a fertility clinic, where it is discovered that Trudy has fertility problems. Trudy and her parents pressure Pete to look into adoption. Pete is at first uncomfortable with the idea, but agrees to think about it, and mentions this to his brother. Bud tells their mother, who disapproves completely, stating that people of Pete's social status should not be picking from "discards."[7] When Pete finds out that Trudy has put their name on a list to meet with a prominent local adoption agency, he shouts at her, throws the dinner she cooked off their balcony, and declares that they are absolutely not going to adopt.[8] This leads to a rift in the marriage. Trudy decides to stay at her parents' house during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Pete refuses to go with her, stating that if he is going to die, he wants to die in Manhattan.[9]

What Pete and his mother did not know is that Pete has already fathered a child with his co-worker Peggy Olson (portrayed by Elisabeth Moss). Pete initially met Peggy on her first day as Don Draper's new secretary, in March 1960. A lower middle class Catholic from Brooklyn, Peggy tells Pete that she has just graduated from Miss Deaver's Secretarial School. Pete makes rude comments about her dowdy appearance, for which Draper scolds him. Later that night, however, after his bachelor party, Pete shows up at Peggy's apartment drunk. Despite his offensive remarks earlier that day, the two sleep together.[10] Months later, Peggy and Pete again have a sexual encounter on Pete's office couch, early in the morning before the other employees arrive.[11] Though Peggy begins to arrive early for work regularly, the two have no further sexual liaisons. During the Season One finale, it is revealed that Peggy — who has put on a considerable amount of weight over the course of the season — is in labor with Pete's child. She gives birth to a boy.[12]

Early in Season 2, Peter meets Susie (portrayed by Sarah Wright) after a casting call for Playtex and they talk in the elevator. Much to Pete's surprise, she lives with her mother but that doesn't stop them from sleeping together.[13] During the Season Two finale, when everyone in the office has left for the day, Pete asks Peggy to come sit down with him. Pete tells Peggy that he thinks she is "perfect," and then confesses that he is in love with her and wishes that he had married her. This declaration prompts Peggy to finally admit that she had his baby and gave it up for adoption two years before. After Peggy reveals this, Pete sits in shock. Pete is last seen sitting alone in his dark office, holding a rifle on his lap. It is the same rifle he bought on store credit in Season One, when he returned a ceramic chip-and-dip he and Trudy received as a wedding gift.[9]

At the start of Season 3, which takes place about six months later, Pete and Trudy seem much closer: he immediately calls her when he discovers he is to be promoted, and there is no mention of adoption. They seem like a very happy couple doing the Charleston dance at Roger Sterling's garden party, and Harry Crane's wife is jealous of them. When Trudy goes out of town weeks later, though, Pete feels very lonely and pressures his neighbor's young German au pair into sleeping with him; due to acting choices this was portrayed as rape, though actor Vincent Kartheiser said it was more ambiguous in the script.[14] The man she works for comes over to confront Pete in their apartment. When Trudy kisses Pete after returning home, Pete is noticeably distraught, and he later tells Trudy, "I don't want you to go away anymore without me."

By the end of Season 3, it is apparent that some form of fence-mending has taken place between Pete and his father-in-law (revealed in Season Four to be Trudy's doing) as he is able to bring the Clearasil account to the newly formed firm of Sterling, Cooper, Draper, and Pryce. This is an account Pete had previously lost for Sterling Cooper due to his refusing to consider adoption, thus upsetting his wife and angering his father-in-law. In Season Four, Clearasil is dropped by the agency because of a conflict with another account, but Pete is able to manipulate his father-in-law into giving him several larger accounts from that company.

In the Season 4 episode "The Rejected," Pete finds out that Trudy is pregnant, much to his delight. Trudy gives birth in the eleventh episode of the season to their daughter Tamsin Vogel Campbell, known as "Tammy" (an obvious gesture to his father-in-law).

In the early years of their marriage, Pete had trouble reconciling his own ambitions with that of his wife's. Pete was a domineering husband, such as when he scolded his wife for signing up for an adoption agency without his permission. Also, he was angry at Trudy for not sleeping with her ex-beau, who, now a publishing executive, could have gotten a story Pete published in a prestigious publication. Pete engaged in at least three extramarital affairs in the first years of their marriage. However, after being caught by a neighbor, Pete confesses his infidelity to Trudy. After a short period of tension their marriage seemed to improve, something that aligned with a corresponding improvement in Pete's work status. However, in seasons four and five, Pete seemed to lose his dominance in the relationship, such as when Trudy "forbids" him to give their money to Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.

By the start of Season 5, Pete and Trudy have moved with their baby daughter to a new home in Cos Cob, a village in the affluent commuter city of Greenwich, CT, which sits on the New Haven Line. Having never learned to drive, Pete commutes by rail to the city. By July 1966 he has enrolled in a driver education course in order to gain a license. Living in Greenwich has a negative effect on the Manhattan-raised Pete, who begins to feel restless in his marriage, homelife and career. He begins an affair with Beth Dawes (portrayed by actress Alexis Bledel), the unhappy wife of a co-commuter, which ends after she has a round of electroshock therapy to cure her undiagnosed depression and, as a result, forgets who he is.

In season 6, Pete indulges in a fling with a neighborhood woman, whose husband finds out, resulting in the woman being beaten up at the Campbell's doorway. As a result, Trudy tells Pete she knew all along about his infidelities, and therefore let him have a bachelor pad in Manhattan, so he would have his affairs there, and not in their home turf. She throws him out, although she refuses to divorce, deeming such thing as acknowledging failure.[15] However, in a later episode, "For Immediate Release" Pete loses his father-in-law's account after they run into each other at a brothel. In revenge, Pete tells Trudy what he saw and she makes it plain she doesn't believe him and wouldn't care if he was telling the truth, after which she throws him out.[16] In the season 6 finale, he comes by to get a few things, as he is driving out west to open up a new branch of the agency in California; he offers a sincere apology to Trudy, who accepts and lets him say goodbye to his daughter.[17]

However, when he makes a visit to NYC in Season 7, his child does not recognize him and seems scared by his presence. Pete later hypocritically accuses Trudy of being a bad parent when she stays out late on a date, after which Trudy coldly tells Pete "you're not part of this family anymore." Pete reacts by pushing the bottle of beer he was drinking into a cake Trudy had baked and walks out the house without further comment.[18] In the latter part of the season Pete seeks reconciliation and asks Trudy to relocate with him to Wichita with their daughter. Trudy at first refuses his heartfelt request, admitting she still loves Pete but can't forget his adultery. Eventually, however, she agrees to renew their marriage. The reunited Campbell family is last seen happily boarding a Lear Jet for their new life in Kansas.[5]


  1. "Vincent Kartheiser-IMDb". Retrieved 30 August 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Shut the Door. Have a Seat.". Mad Men. Season 3. Episode 13. November 8, 2009. AMC.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Out of Town". Mad Men. Season 3. Episode 1. August 16, 2009. AMC.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "The Fog". Mad Men. Season 3. Episode 5. September 13, 2009. AMC.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Person to Person". Mad Men. Season 7. Episode 14. May 17, 2015. AMC.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Nussbaum, Emily (July 24, 2008). "Emily Nussbaum on Pete and his Poignant Crumminess".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "The Inheritance". Mad Men. Season 2. Episode 10. October 5, 2008. AMC.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "The Mountain King". Mad Men. Season 2. Episode 12. October 19, 2008. AMC.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Meditations in an Emergency". Mad Men. Season 2. Episode 13. October 26, 2008. AMC.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes". Mad Men. Season 1. Episode 1. July 19, 2007. AMC.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "The Hobo Code". Mad Men. Season 1. Episode 8. September 6, 2007. AMC.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "The Wheel". Mad Men. Season 1. Episode 13. October 18, 2007. AMC.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Maidenform". Mad Men. Season 2. Episode 6. August 31, 2008. AMC.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. movieline (November 8, 2010). "Pete Campbell 'Not a Rapist,' Says Pete Campbell". Movieline. Retrieved December 27, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Collaborators". Mad Men. Season 6. Episode 3. April 14, 2013. AMC.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "For Immediate Release". Mad Men. Season 6. Episode 6. May 5, 2013. AMC.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "In Care Of". Mad Men. Season 6. Episode 13. June 23, 2013. AMC.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "The Strategy". Mad Men. Season 7. Episode 6. May 18, 2015. AMC.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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