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Ben Affleck does it again. His & # 39; Argo & # 39; – a film about a fake movie – wins the best picture at the Academy Awards. Ang Lee takes the best instructor to Life of Pi & # 39; – as Seth MacFarlane plays a little naughty in his first Oscar hosting concert. (February 25)
AP

FREDERICK, Md. – A former CIA technical operator who helped save six US diplomats from Iran in 1980 and was portrayed by Ben Affleck in the movie "Argo" is dead. He was 78 years old.

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

Specializing in hidden operations, Mendez helped devise the plan whereby six diplomats in hiding were disguised as a Canadian movie crew member so that they could control a flight and escape from the land in the midst of the Iranian riot crisis.

The bold plot – for years a side message to the 52 people held hostage for 444 days – caught the public's attention in "Argo", which won the 2013 Oscar for best picture.

Mendez, who joined the CIA after being recruited in 1965, spent his 25-year career working undercover in warfare, including the Soviet Union. Working as a "disguise leader" Mendez and his workers helped secret agents stay secret by creating false documents and aprons, according to a biography of his first book, "The Master of Disguise, My Secret Life in the CIA." [19659007] "Tony Mendez was a real 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 only sought to serve his country. I am so proud to have worked for him and to have told one of his stories."

The Argo manuscript, based on another Mendez memoir and also an Oscar winner, was liberally decorated for the big screen . The six Americans' passage through Tehran's airport and on an aircraft was immaterial, Mendez wrote. But the film portrayed a white-knuckle start at the Tehran airport, with Iranian assault teams driving behind the beam down the runway.

Ben Affleck produced, directed and starred as Tony Mendez in "Argo" based on the real rescue of US embassy workers in Iran in 1980. (Photo: Claire Folger, Warner Bros.)

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

His wife, Jonna, is also a former disguise chief of the CIA Technical Services office. The two wrote a book on their agency work in Moscow in the last days of the Cold War and their romance, which led to their marriage after he retired in 1990. Mendez was also a finished painter.

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

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