Who is Dr. Lyle Evans?
August 22, 2010 8:20 PM   Subscribe

Is Dr. Lyle Evans a real historical figure or just a made-up person in the Mad Men universe?
posted by originalname37 to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Google a little -- it becomes clear that "Lyle Evans" is indeed a made-up person in the Mad Men universe... and in our universe, there's no shortage of commentary on exactly that fact...
posted by Perplexity at 8:38 PM on August 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think there's about a hundred thousand people googling this right now.

This is all I could find.
Lillian Lyle Evelyn (Evans) King, known to most people as Lyle Evans, is responsible for the growth of school library services in Saskatchewan through her initiative, enthusiasm, and efforts to interest school boards, superintendents, principals, teachers, and teacher librarians in the need for better school library service in the province

This doesn't sound like someone Roger Sterling has ever heard of or would make reference to.
posted by amethysts at 8:39 PM on August 22, 2010

Mad Men likes to use the medium of the show for social commentary that's relevant to today. It's a new kind of 4th-wall breaking. Basically, Matthew Weiner was having a laugh. He just pinged his whole audience with a red herring.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:48 PM on August 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

You would much more likely get a solution from us if you could tell us who the Evans character is in the show. Not all of us watch the show but we may still be able to identify the historical person or persons that Evans is based on, if any, from a description of the character.
posted by Bwithh at 9:06 PM on August 22, 2010

One of the senior partners in the firm didn't want to do business with Honda because he had lost many friends fighting in WWII (and also because he didn't want to junior partner to bring in a client that might upstage him). Eventually he relents but says "You might as well bring Dr. Lyle Evans in here". I thought it might be a Nazi reference.
posted by amethysts at 9:11 PM on August 22, 2010

There's an actor named Lyle Evans who is credited in a (lost?) 1930 movie called Convict's Code.
posted by emelenjr at 9:26 PM on August 22, 2010

Since it's a passing reference, not an actual character, it's likely a reference to a real historical person. But we don't know the exact name. There are multiple acceptable spellings of Lyle (Lile, Lille, Lisle, Lyall, Lyell) and it could be part of a hyphenated surname rather than a first name. Perhaps there are other ways of spelling Evans or close equivalents. Also, the name may simply be mispronounced on the show.
posted by Bwithh at 10:06 PM on August 22, 2010

Lyle Evans Mahan, the son of Alfred Thayer Mahan?
Mahan was a "household name" in Germany, and Lyle Evans Mahan wrote about him + Japan, as referenced here.

I don't have time right now to figure out if he's relevant, but it seems like a possibility.
posted by acidic at 4:31 AM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

No actual mention of her, but plenty about other real-life inspirations in Mad Men.
posted by Quantum's Deadly Fist at 8:05 AM on August 23, 2010

I believe that acidic has found the most likely candidate.

Lyle Evans Mahan was a member of the Society for the Prevention of World War III, a relatively prominent American organization which argued that Germany should be treated extremely harshly when it was defeated in World War II (presumably even more harshly than it was treated at the conclusion of World War I) to ensure that Germany would never rise again as a power to threaten other countries, and especially the US. The Society was also involved in criticizing how many former Nazis and German war industrialists were allowed to retain positions of power in post-war Germany. Lyle Evans Mahan in 1944 wrote an anti-German pamphlet for the Society called "Prevent World War III" which appears to have argued that Germany would still pose a potential threat to the US after it was defeated.

While I haven't heard or read the exact dialogue in the scene from Mad Men, this Lyle Evans Mahan seems to fit the general theme well.
posted by Bwithh at 11:22 AM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry the first link was broken in my above post.
here's the Society link:
posted by Bwithh at 11:23 AM on August 23, 2010

Thanks for all of the good sleuthing, especially acidic and Bwithh. Thanks also to amethysts for clarifying the question to enable said sleuthing.

From the scene, I would have expected Evans to be *against* harsh treatment of Germany, but this is the best explanation I've seen. (Though maybe I should check out "The Convict's Code" to be sure.)

Thanks again all.
posted by originalname37 at 7:08 AM on August 24, 2010

I guess maybe he was saying "Let's bring in someone who would agree with me please".
posted by amethysts at 7:39 AM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Bwithh - but that's the opposite of the context of the scene. It's the guy who doesn't want to do business with the Japanese storming out of the room saying, "You might as well Bring Dr. Lyle Evans in here!" Which, if it implies anything, implies that this person was an Axis sympathizer or someone in favor of a soft touch with the Japanese/Germans.

FWIW, I took it to be a reference from Roger's past. Something about the character it was directed towards (Bert Cooper, who has known Roger from childhood) and the way that various characters, especially his former mistress, reacted to it.

Are there other references than just that scene? Sometimes Mad Men likes to build up a plot point through several seemingly isolated events.

According to most of the internet, lamkimlam is correct and it's a red herring with no real-world significance.
posted by Sara C. at 2:50 PM on August 25, 2010

I just wanted to jump in and say that this week's episode (Sept. 5, 2010) explained who Dr. Lyle Evans was. Don't want to give spoilers, but it is indeed someone from Bert Cooper's past! Ah, Mad Men.
posted by stefnet at 8:12 PM on September 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

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