Tony Mendez, the CIA officer played by Ben Affleck in 2012 Argo who won the Oscar for Best Picture, died due to complications of Parkinson's disease in an badisted living center in Maryland. He was 78 years old.
The news was confirmed by a family statement provided on Saturday by his literary manager Christy Fletcher.
"Earlier this morning, Antonio (Tony) J. Méndez finally succumbed to Parkinson's disease that had diagnosed him more than ten years ago," the statement said. "He was surrounded by his family's love and we will miss him so much."
The statement also said that "the last thing he and his wife Jonna Méndez did was take his new book to the editor and he died, feeling that he had finished writing the stories he wanted to be told." That book, The rules of Moscow: the secret tactics of the CIA that helped the United States win the cold war, will be published in May.
Mendez, a long-time undercover agent, received the Valor Intelligence Star in 1980 for spearheading the rescue of six US diplomats from Iran during the 1979-1981 hostage crisis. The operation involved the creation of a fake Hollywood film production company in a ruse to suggest that the hostages were Canadians looking for locations for a science fiction movie. After some real-life dramas, the plan worked, but the mission, now known as "Canadian Caper", was not declbadified until the late 1990s.
Directed Affleck Argo And Mendez played. The film won seven Oscar nominations and won three, including the Marquee Best Film and the screenplay by Chris Terrio, which was adopted in part of Méndez's book The master of disguise: my secret life in the CIA.
Méndez, also a painter, wrote several books with his wife Jonna, also a former intelligence officer of the CIA. They also co-wrote the memoirs of the Soviet Cold War Spy powder published in 2002.
Fletcher said there will be a private funeral for Méndez in his native Nevada.