Tony Mendez, the real CIA spy behind Argo dies aged 78
|bbc.com 20 Jan 2019 at 08:57|
"He was surrounded with love from his family and will be sorely missed," said Christy Fetcher, Mr Mendez s literary agent.
Ben Affleck, who directed Argo and starred as Mr Mendez, paid tribute on social media, calling him "a true American hero".
"He was a man of extraordinary grace, decency, humility and kindness," Mr Affleck said in a tweet.
"He never sought the spotlight for his actions, he merely sought to serve his country."
Tony Mendez was a true American hero. He was a man of extraordinary grace, decency, humility and kindness. He never sought the spotlight for his actions, he merely sought to serve his country. I’m so proud to have worked for him and to have told one of his stories. #RIPTonyMendez
Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell also tweeted that Mr Mendez "was one of the best officers to ever serve at CIA."
"His work was unique, and it help [sic] to protect our nation in significant ways."
Born in 1940, Mr Mendez worked as a draftsman after graduating university and joined the CIA after answering a blind advert for a graphic artist.
Over a 25-year career he worked with Hollywood makeup artists and magicians to perfect disguises and fake identities.
He served in multiple foreign posts, mostly in Asia. In 1980 he orchestrated what would later be called the "Canadian Caper", a daring rescue of six American diplomats from Iran.
The diplomats were forced to shelter Canada s embassy in Tehran after protestors overran the American embassy.
Mr. Mendez met with the six and helped them to pose as a Canadian film crew scouting locations for a non-existent sci-fi movie, Argo.
With Canada s help, the group were able to evade Iranian security services and board a flight to Zurich from Tehran.