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President Merkin Muffley

Updated on October 12, 2014

Merkin Muffley -- Famed Movie President

This page is devoted to Merkin Muffley, the fictional President of the United States portrayed by Peter Sellers in the 1964 Stanley Kubrick film Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

Some people think of him as a wimp, but if you look at his actions in the situation he was confronting, you see that he made reasonable decisions and showed plenty of backbone.

According to Wikimedia Commons, images from the movie "Dr. Strangelove" are in the public domain.

Background information on Merkin Muffley

The movie "Dr. Strangelove" was released in 1964, so it would be assumed that Merkin Muffley was elected President in 1960. It is not stated whether he is in his first or second term in office.

His name, like many other names in "Dr. Strangelove", is intended to be funny and a bit naughty. A merkin is a pubic wig. Enough said.

Muffley is supposed to be from the Midwest. It is said that Peter Sellers's muse for this performance was two-time Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson.

Muffley in conference in the War Room.
Muffley in conference in the War Room.

What kind of president is Merkin Muffley?

Overall, I like President Muffley. He is the calming voice of sanity among the loonies in the War Room. He is able to think clearly in a disastrous situation and not get swept up in irrational emotions.

What was Muffley's outlook before this crisis hit? Here's what I think. While the rest of the world was worrying about the dangers of the nuclear buildup, I think Muffley was sleeping peacefully at night. He was the only person in the entire country who had the authority to order a nuclear attack, and he knew that he was never going to do it. The only other person in the world who could start a nuclear war would be Dimitri Kisov, the Russian premier, and that wasn't likely to happen either, because he and Dimitri knew each other. They had an understanding, you know? So Muffley knew that everything was going to be OK as long as he was in office.

Except, of course, for the fact that he had supported some "contingency" plans that ended up being exploited and used to start a first-strike nuclear attack without his permission. That should have been examined more thoroughly.

The right man in a crisis!

Some people accuse President Muffley of being weak or wimpy, but that is not a bit true. Check him out here, standing up to General Turgidson. He makes it clear that he's not about to abandon his principles or be bullied by this loudmouth:


Some good reading material for President Muffley

Here's a book on dealing with work-related crises that President Muffley might find helpful.

What about his tone on the phone?

Yes, Muffley did take an extremely apologetic tone when he was talking to Premier Kisov. But he had a valid reason for doing that. He coddled Dimitri because Dimitri needed to be coddled.

First of all, Kisov was partying and intoxicated at the time. We all know that you have to be patient and repetitive when you talk to drunk folks.

Second, the reason Muffley was calling Kisov was to tell him that a rogue general had just ordered an unprovoked nuclear attack on his country and the planes can't be recalled! When you're bearing that kind of news, it makes a lot of sense to be generous with the mea culpas. That's not being a wuss. That's having people skills.


Another good book for Muffley

A little help for handling those difficult communications.

Go to the polls and vote!

Would you vote for Merkin Muffley for President?

See results

Click the Coudal Partners link to see Muffley's campaign commercial

The phone call to Kisov (some sources spell the premier's name "Kissov", "Kisoff", or "Kissoff")
The phone call to Kisov (some sources spell the premier's name "Kissov", "Kisoff", or "Kissoff") | Source

Should Merkin Muffley run for President in 2016?

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Should he run again?

We thank all of you for your support of President Muffley during his 2012 run. Important issues were raised that made valuable contributions to the political discourse. President Muffley is seeking feedback from his supporters and well-wishers as he considers whether he should run for President again in the 2016 election.

Please vote. Your input is appreciated.

Muffley's famous catchphrase!

You can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

"Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!" was selected as #64 on the American Film Institute's list of the Top 100 Movie Quotes.

Find Merkin Muffley around the internet

IMDB listing: President Merkin Muffley (Character)

Facebook page: Merkin Muffley

Another one on Facebook: Muffley for President '08

His Twitter feed (he hasn't tweeted in a while, though): Merkin Muffley

This Entertainment Weekly article lists Muffley as a favorite fictional President, but they call him too meek and dovish to be the right man for the job. I disagree, as you know.

His quotes page on

What if there hadn't been a Doomsday Machine?

Was President Muffley's philosophy the right one? Debate it!

So Muffley wanted to work in collaboration with the Russians to deal with the crisis, while General Buck Turgidson wanted to launch a massive nuclear attack. Who had the best plan?

If you want to debate the question, you can go to:

The Muffley vs. Turgidson Debate

Share your stories, sightings, thoughts, rants, raves...

Shout Out For Merkin Muffley!

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    • jmatthewdobson profile image

      Joseph Matthew Dobson 2 years ago

      Dr. Strangelove is by far one of my favorite dark comedies. Peter Sellers was phenomenal in this role!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      My favourite movie of all time by my favourite director of all time, what's not to like ! And thank Bob Peter Sellers injured himself just enough so that he couldn't play the part of the pilot or we would've been denied the sight of Slim Pickens riding the bomb like a rodeo rider ! Surely one of THE most iconic scenes in movie history !

    • geoffhoff profile image

      geoffhoff 5 years ago

      Love the name Premier Kisov. Didn't quite hit me until I heard it (again!) at the end of the clip above.

    • profile image

      LuizAvila 5 years ago

      He deserved the Oscar!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I love it! This is one of my favorite movies, and "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room." is one of my all time favorite quotes. Terrific lens!

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 7 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Congratulations on your Purple Star!