Andre and Maria Jacquemetton, Mad Men‘s husband-and-wife producing-and-writing team, discussed the significance of Marilyn in the series:
“Q: How have you determined which real-life events to reference in the series and how much importance to give them in the world of Mad Men?
A: If the historical event facilitates a theme Matthew Weiner and the writers are interested in exploring, then it becomes part of the season. It’s very important that we not just “do” an event because it happened that year. For instance, there was a great deal of discussion about how to use the death of Marilyn Monroe in [Season 2, Episode 9] “Six Month Leave.” Don Draper, like Marilyn Monroe, is very much a construct of the way people view him. Marilyn’s suicide ended up becoming thematically linked to Don’s feelings about the firing of Freddy Rumsen and, on a personal level, what’s in a name — the idea of identity and Don’s own crisis with that in the episode.”