It's December 1967 in the season-six premiere of Mad Men, and Megan Draper is a rising soap star on the fictional show To Have and to Hold. Considering soap opera popularity reached an all-time high in the late '60s, this could be a big break for Megan.
Beginning as radio programs produced by soap-company-owned studios like Procter & Gamble Productions, soap operas came packaged as episodic weekday broadcasts meant to appeal to housewives. They emphasized drama between families and lovers, as well as extended story arcs. After moving to TV, soaps were broadcasted daily in 15-minute segments until the late 1960s, when they all moved to a 30-minute format — meaning more airtime for a budding actress like Megan.
There was never a show called To Have and to Hold. But when a fan asks Megan for an autograph, the woman says, "I can't believe Victor won't acknowledge you," giving a nod to Victor Lord, the patriarch of real-life soap One Life to Live. So why did Mad Men apparently choose One Life to Live as its inspiration? Perhaps because it juxtaposes nicely with the Mad Men season-five finale title, "You Only Live Twice," based on the James Bond song. Together they fit with the show's constant question: do you only have one life to live, or can you remake yourself?