If you’ve been reading Terror House and following my film reviews (I know there’s one of you), you might have read my analysis on the conspiracy theory that asserted that Stanley Kubrick helped the United States Government fake the moon landing. I found more reasons to disbelieve the theory than believe it.

I wanted to add two addendums to my previous article. While not adding any new information to my previous arguments, I wanted to add two other points of interest for readers to consider.

How Did Yuri Gagarin Die, and Why Do I Suggest Conspiracy Theorists Investigate It?

I was being facetious when I mentioned that conspiracy theorists ought to investigate this case, as there are already several preexisting theories, conspiracy and otherwise.

What is known is that on March 27th, 1968, Gagarin and his flight instructor, Vladimir Seryogin, perished during a routine exercise when their plane crashed.

Different investigations came up with different causes for the crash, everything from deteriorating weather conditions, to attached fuel tanks (which were inappropriate for the aircraft), to oxygen vents being open (which would cause oxygen deprivation), to a bird strike, to a near or direct collision with another aircraft flying under minimum altitude levels (even if there weren’t a direct impact, the turbulence can apparently cause a spin).

But what’s telling about this situation is different investigating bodies could not come to a consensus. During initial investigations, the Soviet Air Force, government commissions, and KGB agents seemed at odds with each other. In 2005, the Kremlin declined to revisit the evidence collected from the crash.

There are many theories about exactly why the KGB, government commissions, and Soviet Air Force would have had different motivations during this critical investigation. But I have one which I think is most probable.

It concerns the well documented death of fellow Cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov less than a year before.  The Soyuz-1 mission was to orbit the moon 18 times. If you don’t already know of Komarov, you should, because he was the victim of a gruesome space incident.

His death was preventable had government and military officials not ignored critical faults and structural abnormalities in the Soyuz-1 craft Komarov was to pilot. Over 200 of them were documented, including in critical equipment and operating systems, but these concerns were consistently ignored.

Gagarin was involved in the mission as Komarov’s substitute should Komarov be unable or refuse to take the mission. Gagarin appealed directly to Leonid Brezhnev for help when the cosmonauts’ concerns were ignored.

But Komarov accepted the mission. Gagarin pressured Komarov to refuse it; his theory was the government officials would have to relent and consider their concerns if the life of a national hero was at stake.

He may have been very wrong.

Yuri Gagarin took on the role of relaying instructions to Komarov during the mission, which went as badly as expected when Komarov launched on April 23rd, 1967. Critical problems began before Soyuz-1 left orbit, including in navigation and communications. For almost five hours, Komarov attempted to correct the problems, but could do little with limited functionality of the damaged Soyuz-1. Most importantly, perhaps, one of the two solar panels didn’t deploy, leaving the Soyuz-1 with half its power.

In lieu of all the problems, command ordered Komarov to cut the mission short and attempt reentry. This wasn’t possible until partially through the Soyuz’s 19th orbit, meaning Komarov’s reentry occurred late.

Then there was a final technological failure: a parachute failed to deploy, which sent Soyuz-1 and Komarov (later, Komarov’s corpse) plummeting at high speeds into Earth at about 400 miles an hour. The speeds, heat and other forces that acted upon the corpse reduced it to a mass of black ash. Only portions of his blackened, disfigured skeleton were recognizable as human. He was the first person to die in space.

By the time Komarov’s remains were discovered at the crash site in a farmer’s field, Russian military officials were already covering the incident up. They quickly photographed the remains, performed an autopsy, then prepared to bury the remains in the Kremlin wall. Komarov was given a state funeral with full honors and was posthumously awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union for the second time (the first was for his successful flight of Voskhod-1 in 1964).

But they had forgotten to consult Gagarin in the coverup. Less than two months later, Gagarin conducted an interview with a major newspaper openly criticizing the government and military officials and blaming the accident on their negligence. Together with fellow Soyuz cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, Gagarin was determined to uncover incompetence in government oversight who refused the redesigns. Partially due to his persistence and partially due to shifting blame after the accident, Gagarin was suspended from the Soyuz program and was demoted, so he was forbidden to fly solo.

And that’s essentially where we are until the March 27th crash, just less than a year after Komarov’s death, which resulted in Gagarin’s death.

The person who theorized that the crash had been caused by a collision was Leonov, who was conducting parachute training nearby. Leonov claimed to hear an unidentified sonic boom before Gagarin’s plane plummeted. Oddly, he wasn’t in a solo flight.

I have to poke an immediate hole in the “weather deteriorated” theory: Leonov is on the same base still doing parachute training, so could weather conditions have actually been adverse? It’s possible this is due to a state of general incompetence at the Soviet base, but it makes it seem less likely.

(Leonov had the intelligence to let up pressure on the administration, which was probably the right move, and he would enjoy a long career with the Soyuz program.)

Disasters like Gagarin’s can be accidental, and there certainly were many factors which could have caused the crash. But considering how varied the explanations for the accident were, it seems strange the KGB was not interested in learning the definitive answer and may have actively blocked the investigation. It seems all explanations except for the bird point to someone being responsible for the accident. But anyone who could’ve provided the needed information either didn’t come forward, wasn’t discovered, or was actively blocked from providing this information by the KGB.

I’m not saying the conspiracy theory that Gagarin’s death was caused by a government plot to silence him regarding the Soyuz-1 disaster is true. However, I must ask myself, legitimately, why the investigating bodies found the red-tape incompetence solution to his accident if there was not some deeper intent behind it.

I said before that I follow Occam’s razor when it comes to conspiracy theories and theories in general. To me, the idea that an unknown factor mysteriously caused two experienced military personnel, one involved with an advanced space program, and one a flight instructor, and that there is no evidence to say definitively what occurred, is more of a stretch than to assume that something might have been purposely done to Gagarin and his flight instructor. Does this mean this is what happened? No, of course not, and because the investigation was purposely never reopened or revisited (because who argues with the Kremlin?), this means we’ll never have the necessary information to prove anything. That in and of itself suggests something more to me.

So, I guess the comment I made earlier was more in the hopes that if there is an answer, someday, if there is any evidence left to find that could solve the mystery, I’d appreciate it. But to me, I have a fairly concrete conviction that whatever happened, it was too much of a coincidence and then a mismanagement of an investigation to simply be an accident. Or, if it were an accident, the KGB had no interest in learning why it happened.

The Other Kubrick Conspiracy: Was Dr. Strangelove Inspired by Henry Kissinger?

When I watched Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) again recently for the probably at least the 20th time, I suddenly questioned exactly who was being satirized in Peter Sellers’ interpretation of the Nazi-sympathizing Operation Paperclip paraplegic.

Of course, the obvious answer is Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s top propagandist, known for his fine manners, finesse, intelligence, and excellent speaking voice (which made him the voice of Hitler’s propaganda radio programs). He was a key player in shaping the public view of the Reich. He was so devoted to Hitler that Goebbels, his wife Magda, and the Goebbels’ children all died in Hitler’s personal bunker via cyanide poisoning mere days before Hitler and Eva Braun did. Goebbels was born with a clubfoot and was susceptible to disease in youth, resulting in a weak constitution. He often had difficulty walking, sometimes requiring canes, braces, crutches, and, you guessed it, wheelchairs. So that explains the wheelchair. For a long time, I assumed that was a direct caricature.

But Sellers’ appearance also is uncannily similar to Henry Kissinger’s. The problem? Strangelove was made in 1964. Kissinger wasn’t well-known at that time. He wasn’t yet an advisor, but still a mere academic and a lesser-known author on the topics of history, government, the military, and public policy.

Kissinger would later meet Richard Nixon at a campaign event. Before 1967, Kissinger was an aide in Nelson Rockefeller’s 1960, 1964, and 1968 campaigns for the presidency (after meeting Nixon, Kissinger immediately joined the Nixon campaign).

Rockefeller, who was governor of New York state, was vying to be the Republican candidate for President at the same time Nixon was. He would eventually be appointed Vice President under the 25th Amendment when Nixon resigned, but in 1967, nobody could have known this was going to happen.

All this is to say, one can safely say it is unlikely Kubrick would’ve crossed paths with Kissinger in or before 1964, especially because Kubrick was deeply invested in left-leaning politics. Yet Strangelove’s resemblance to Kissinger is more than a little coincidental. But…is it? And if so, how?

If it is, I think the answer isn’t predictive programming, as many would automatically assert. There may be a more realistic answer.

If Kubrick had learned anything about Kissinger when filming Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, it would’ve been through an insider in Rockefeller’s campaign. Though Kissinger was a skilled campaign adviser, he had no public image in 1964. It’s possible Kubrick had an informant in Rockefeller’s campaign and chose to satirize an eccentric German-born conservative working on that campaign.

But if it’s true, it’s stranger than fiction.

Maybe I’m overthinking things. Maybe Kissinger is just too much like a typical Bond villain. But I’m never one to call something a coincidence too soon.

If you’re curious (because I was), the book Red Alert by Peter George, which Strangelove was based on, doesn’t even have a Dr. Strangelove in it. So, the figure Peter Sellers is portraying was created entirely during preproduction of the film.

Kubrick was confronted about this theory and denied it, claiming Dr. Strangelove was an amalgamation of characteristics from real people. He claimed that, conceptually speaking, Wernher von Braun, the godfather of the space program and one of the most valuable scientists acquired during Operation Paperclip, was the main inspiration for the zany character. Kubrick also claimed that Strangelove’s looks, dogma, idiosyncrasies, and affectations were taken from major figures in the military industries, including Herman Kahn of the RAND Corporation. Kubrick even asserted he drew inspiration from the character Rotwang from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927); Sellers backed this up, saying that Strangelove’s black leather gloves were inspired by Rotwang’s. Kubrick further claimed Strangelove’s idiosyncratic way of speaking was inspired by Arthur Fellig (better known as the art photographer and crime photographer Weegee), who had worked as a special photographic effects consultant on the film. Kubrick never explicitly referenced being inspired by Goebbels at all.

All of this makes a lot of sense in an Occam’s razor sense.

Only it also doesn’t.

When I look at photographs of Herman Kahn, I can see Strangelove’s glasses and his over-the-top goofy ideas about surviving nuclear war, but otherwise, the two look distinctly different. Kissinger is a much closer fit.

I can imagine Wernher von Braun (who had been a card-carrying SS Nazi) saying the words that come out of Strangelove’s mouth, but it still seems like an ill fit otherwise.

I’ve listened to Fellig’s voice, and yes, it’s a peculiar and nasal voice, but it doesn’t have the peculiar cadence of Strangelove’s speech, which Kissinger does have.

And the sinister, predatory nature of Strangelove’s character could have been inspired by Joseph Goebbels, but I still see Kissinger as almost a fit for this characteristic. Obviously, the wheelchair isn’t Kissinger’s.

Of course, this is satire, also. Every characteristic is made cartoonish, over the top, and exaggerated. Maybe the Strangelove-ness, as it were, is pure imagination and exaggeration of preexisting characteristics. Satire often uses these tactics, so that’s not an unknown tactic.

But something about Kubrick’s explanation seems more complex than it needs to be. But the only other option is Kubrick based the character on a little-known author/academic whose only claim to fame was working in a leadership capacity on Nelson Rockefeller’s campaign.

Is it easier to believe Kubrick somehow came up with something that so resembled someone he’d never seen before and had no knowledge of by combining qualities from menacing Nazis and military types?

Or is it easier to believe that Kubrick knew someone close to or on Rockefeller’s campaign, learned about Kissinger, and decided to use him as a cartoon character in a zany antiwar satire?

Because that’s our only two options. One could additionally argue the Kissinger-Strangelove issue is an instance of predictive programming. This theory, as I understand it, asserts that Hollywood films and television programs can predict future events, the implication here being the events themselves are planned. But this is just more of a theoretical stretch than I’m yet willing to consider.

Kubrick was a perfectionist and was addicted to research long before the Internet, so he had to research the old-fashioned way. He also had a history of finding unconventional ways of researching topics of interest. It is possible that, when he conceived of Dr. Strangelove (as far back as 1960, when he the purchased film rights to Red Alert), this could’ve inspired him to learn something about modern conservative groups and campaigns, particularly because Kubrick intended to satirize conservatives as barely-disguised fascists.

Kubrick was born, raised in, and lived in NYC, so Kubrick would’ve known something about Rockefeller’s campaigns. If Kubrick convinced someone to do independent research by joining that campaign, he would have eventually heard about an eccentric German-born Jew acting as a higher-level aide. It’s not out of the realm of possibility.

Would Kissinger have been noticeable in Rockefeller’s campaign?

Absolutely, for many reasons. Kissinger wore large spectacles, was highly educated, and would have come off as overly intellectual, and of course spoke with a thick German accent. It’s not as though conservatives can’t be all of these, but especially in 1964, Kissinger would have seemed incongruent with the general culture of American conservatives. And Americans were still considerably biased against German-Americans, and his accent alone would have made him stick out. All this is to say that if Stanley Kubrick did have an informant in Rockefeller’s campaign, they would have noticed Henry Kissinger readily.

If Kubrick did base the character of Dr. Strangelove on Henry Kissinger, it’s very mean-spirited, considering that Kissinger was a German Jew whose family was persecuted regularly by Hitler Youth and officers alike before they could escape first to London then to Manhattan in 1938. I’m not usually one to refer to anyone’s military history, but Kissinger was also drafted for WWII in 1943, and the war brought him right back to the country he’d been persecuted in. Kissinger technically could have sought an exemption, since he was already enrolled in higher education, but didn’t. Kubrick, who was also a Jew, would have been making a very mean-spirited comment if he’d based the character of Strangelove on Kissinger. So, even if it were true, would Kubrick deny it? In this case, I’m not sure.

But I come back to the same question: is it more likely that Kubrick coincidentally imagined up someone who resembled Henry Kissinger by cobbling together qualities from other Germans and from other fictional research material?

Or, is it likely that Kubrick hired a political insider to work on Rockefeller’s campaign to research the conservative character, who then met Kissinger, and that’s how Kissinger ends up satirized in Dr. Strangelove?

Both explanations almost sound less than probable and sound like they’re more than a little complex, but they are the only two ones I can think of.


I hope that this addendum has given Terror House readers a little something to consider. I know I tore down the Kubrick moon landing conspiracy considerably in my former article, so I wanted to give back a few questions that I found more interesting.