I Married a Mad Man

A Chicago ad legend inspired countless memorable campaigns, my own unbelievable love story, and, decades later, a hit leading man

(page 4 of 4)

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On Monday, Dan called a meeting at the office. Nobody in our company knew of the engagement—or had any idea that we were seeing each other. Dan called all the employees together—there were about 65—and announced that there had been another merger. Then he said, “Myra and I were married this weekend.”

Our staff was a little shell-shocked. A headline in the newspaper the next day read: “Another Merger at Draper Daniels.”

About two weeks later, we honeymooned in the Bahamas, which was where Dan taught me how to fish and I caught my first big wahoo. Looking back now, I realize I never regretted marrying him, even though I resisted pretty strongly at first. I think it shows that sometimes we don’t know what’s best for ourselves. I had been so work-oriented and had resisted so strongly that Dan saw no choice but to come after me. I’m grateful that he did.

We lived a good life. We had a nice apartment in Chicago and bought a farm 97 miles away, near Ronald Reagan’s hometown of Dixon. If you walked around the square back then, everybody, it seemed, looked like Ronald Reagan.

Years later, in Florida, after Dan lost his battle with cancer, I was cleaning out his old highboy chest and I found two rolls of nickels in a drawer. I had no idea what they were doing there—but I thought immediately of Vivian Hill, the woman who had introduced us back in 1965. I remembered how Vivian used to keep these rolls of nickels lined up in the crevices of her desk drawer and would often make bets with people. She’d say things like, “I’ll bet you two rolls of nickels that Procter & Gamble is going to move from this agency to that agency.” I was still in touch with her so I rang her up and said, “Vivian, the strangest thing happened. I opened up the drawer to Dan’s old highboy and I found two rolls of nickels, like the kind I would sometimes win from you.” And she started laughing.

I said, “Why are you laughing?”

“Didn’t he ever tell you?”

“Tell me what?”

So Vivian told me a little story about Dan, a story that I didn’t know: The morning after I had met Dan in 1965—the night we talked for five hours, then went out for hamburgers at the Wrigley Building—he had gone to visit Vivian and said that he wanted to buy the company. I knew that part, but I didn’t know the rest of it. He also told her, “Vivian, just for your information, within two years that woman is going to be Mrs. Daniels.” She bet him two rolls of nickels that he was wrong. The day after we were married, in 1967, she paid off the bet.

Dan kept the nickels.   

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