Ben Affleck as Tony Mendez, CIA covert operations officer
Tehran, Iran, January 1980
Release Date: October 12, 2012
Director: Ben Affleck
Costume Designer: Jacqueline West
A month ago on my Instagram page, I posted about Ben Affleck’s tweedy look in Argo to coincide with the 40th anniversary of what became known as the “Canadian Caper”, the successful 1980 rescue of six American diplomats who had been taking refuge with Canadian diplomatic personnel after the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran.
The six diplomats—Bob Anders, Cora and Mark Lijek, Henry Lee Schatz, and Joe and Kathleen Stafford—had managed to escape after militants first stormed the embassy on November 4, 1979, evading the 444 days of captivity that befell more than 50 Americans who were detained in what would become known as the “Iran hostage crisis”. The escapees initially received help from the British embassy but deemed their situation too risky due to the militants’ raids of diplomatic compounds. Eventually, the sextet found a safer, longer-term solution sheltered at the homes of Canadian immigration officer John Sheardown and Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor.
Taylor first contacted the Canadian government, who expressed support for the sanctuary and instigated a plan to create six Canadian passports for the Americans to safely fly out of Iran. The joint Canadian-American operation also required the participation of the CIA, particularly the efforts of Antonio “Tony” Mendez, a decorated agent and expert in disguises and exfiltration. Continue reading