“If I wanted to see two negroes fight, I’d throw a dollar bill out my window” -Miss Blankenship
While no black people actually appear in this episode, “The Suitcase” was composed around the historic May 1965 fight between black heavyweights Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston. Despite having changed his name to Muhammad Ali a year prior, Ali is mostly referred to as Cassius Clay.
The episode opens with SCDP employees talking about the night’s upcoming fight. Don walks in on the conversation and puts his money on Liston.
When Don asks his crotchety (and apparently formerly hot) secretary Miss Blankenship if she’s going to watch the fight, she delivers this gem, “If I wanted to see two negroes fight, I’d throw a dollar bill out my window.”
Talking with Peggy in his office, Don later calls Ali “Moo-hamed” and says he doesn’t like him. Peggy counters that she thinks Ali is handsome. Then comes one of my favorite lines of the episode…
“I remember my mother talking about Nat King Cole in such a way that made my father throw out all his records.” – Peggy Olson
Peggy ends up skipping her birthday dinner to work on the Samsonite campaign with Don but, they end up on a crazy emotional adventure, sharing more with each other than ever before.
One stop on Don and Peggy’s Crazy Night Train is a bar where they listen to the boxing match on the radio. Don tells Peggy he thinks Ali, the boxer with the rapper flow, boasts too much. “Why does he have to say it; just do it,” says Don. Racism could very well be the basis of Don’s opinion on Ali but, it’s also likely that his own approach to life and work has something to do with it. He’s more of a shut-up-and-get-it-done kind of guy.
In the end, the now iconic image of Ali in white shorts standing over a fallen Liston inspires the Samsonite proposal. The image Don shows to Peggy in the closing scene is a Samsonite suitcase standing above a “knocked-out” American Tourister.