mcloudy.png
Wednesday July 17th, 2019 12:43PM

Former CIA officer portrayed in 'Argo' film dead at 78

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — A former CIA technical operations officer who helped rescue six U.S. diplomats from Iran in 1980 and was portrayed by Ben Affleck in the film "Argo," has died. He was 78.

A family statement and his literary agent confirmed that Antonio "Tony" Mendez died Saturday at an assisted-living center in Frederick, Maryland. He had suffered from Parkinson's disease, according to the statement.

Specializing in covert operations, Mendez helped devise the plan under which six diplomats who were in hiding were disguised as a Canadian film crew so they could board a flight and escape the country amid the Iran hostage crisis. The daring plot — for years a side note to the 52 people held hostage for 444 days — captured the public's attention in "Argo," which won the 2013 Oscar for best picture.

Mendez, who joined the CIA after getting recruited in 1965, spent his 25-year career working undercover in Cold War battlegrounds, including the Soviet Union. Working as a "chief of disguise," Mendez and his workers helped secret agents remain secret through creating false documents and disguises, according to a biography for his first book, "The Master of Disguise; My Secret Life in the CIA."

"Tony Mendez was a true American hero. He was a man of extraordinary grace, decency, humility and kindness," Affleck tweeted Saturday. "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."

The "Argo" screenplay, based on another Mendez memoir and also an Oscar winner, was liberally embellished for the big screen. The six Americans' passage through the Tehran airport and onto a plane was uneventful, Mendez wrote. But the movie portrayed a white-knuckle takeoff at the Tehran airport, with Iranian assault teams racing behind the jet down the runway.

Born in Nevada, Mendez moved to Colorado at age 14, attended the University of Colorado and worked for Martin Marietta on the Titan intercontinental missile, according to the online biography . He was recruited for the CIA in Denver through a blind ad. In less than two years, the biography says, he and his family had moved overseas while Mendez worked in South and Southeast Asia.

His wife, Jonna, is also a former chief of disguise in the CIA's Office of Technical Service. The two wrote a book about their agency work in Moscow in the final days of the Cold War and their romance, which led to their marriage after he retired in 1990. Mendez was also an accomplished painter.

His family says he will be buried in a private ceremony at the family graveyard in Nevada.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Local/State News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Entertainment, AP Online Movies News
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Bitter cold sets in as winter storm wreaks havoc on travel
A major winter storm brought some of the coldest temperatures of the season and covered a large swath of the country in snow.
1:52PM ( 4 minutes ago )
Former CIA officer portrayed in 'Argo' film dead at 78
A former CIA technical operations officer who helped rescue six U.S. diplomats from Iran in 1980 and was portrayed by Ben Affleck in the film "Argo," has died
1:43PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Landmark Air Force chapel suffering from leaks, corrosion
The landmark Cadet Chapel at the U.S. Air Force Academy is suffering from leaks and corrosion, so the school has drawn up an ambitious restoration project
12:01PM ( 1 hour ago )
U.S. News
Man City, Spurs win in contrasting ways in Premier League
Manchester City ultimately sauntered to a 3-0 win at Huddersfield while Tottenham needed a goal by Harry Winks in the third and final minute of injury time to earn a 2-1 victory at Fulham.
1:34PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Greek protesters angry over Macedonia deal clash with police
Protesters have clashed with police outside Greece's parliament during a rally that drew tens of thousands of people against the Greek-Macedonia name deal
1:34PM ( 22 minutes ago )
'Rambo,' 'Total Recall' producer Andy Vajna dies at 74
Andy Vajna, a Hungarian-American film producer who worked on several "Rambo" movies with Sylvester Stallone, "Total Recall" with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Madonna's "Evita," has died
1:29PM ( 27 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Hungarian-American film producer Andy Vajna dies at 74
Andy Vajna, a Hungarian-American film producer who worked on several "Rambo" films with Sylvester Stallone as well as Madonna's "Evita," has died
12:26PM ( 1 hour ago )
Kenzo explores designer's roots at Paris Fashion Week
Psychedelic Peruvian paintings covered panel upon panel of Kenzo's fall menswear show at Paris Fashion Week
11:49AM ( 2 hours ago )
M. Night Shyamalan's 'Glass' is No. 1 with $40.6M debut
M. Night Shyamalan's "Glass" didn't live up to expectations but it still easily dominated the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend at the box office, debuting with an estimated $40.6 million in ticket sales
11:35AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Entertainment
Film airing on PBS highlights Native American links to rock
A documentary that will appear on the PBS series "Independent Lens" shows how Native Americans laid the foundations to rock, blues and jazz and influenced generations of musicians
6:20PM ( 19 hours ago )
PBS film tackles Native American links to rock, blues, jazz
A new PBS Independent Lens documentary shows how Native Americans laid the foundations to rock, blues and jazz and influenced generations of musicians
2:20PM ( 23 hours ago )
PBS films tackles Native American links to rock, blues, jazz
A new PBS Independent Lens documentary shows how Native Americans laid the foundations to rock, blues and jazz and influenced generations of musicians
10:20AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Movies News
Bitter cold sets in as winter storm wreaks havoc on travel
A major winter storm brought some of the coldest temperatures of the season and covered a large swath of the country in snow.
1:52PM ( 4 minutes ago )
Landmark Air Force chapel suffering from leaks, corrosion
The landmark Cadet Chapel at the U.S. Air Force Academy is suffering from leaks and corrosion, so the school has drawn up an ambitious restoration project
12:01PM ( 1 hour ago )
Smaller class sizes not proven but teachers strike for them
Most educators and parents see class size as an indicator of a quality education and have made it a priority in teacher strikes across the United States, but its effectiveness is still up for debate
11:49AM ( 2 hours ago )
Paying for funerals impossible for many poor families
Some relatives of people whose cremated remains were found among hundreds in a Detroit funeral home say they would have loved to bury them in marked graves but couldn't afford traditional funeral services
11:30AM ( 2 hours ago )
Unclaimed veterans buried with dignity, thanks to strangers
A national effort by a funeral home company, medical examiners, state veterans' affairs departments and local veterans' groups honors members of the military whose bodies were not claimed by any relatives
11:16AM ( 2 hours ago )