Retired CIA agent Tony Mendez carved out his place in history with the heroic rescue of six State Department employees during the Iranian hostage crisis. His compelling story is the subject of a new film directed by and starring Oscar winner Ben Affleck. Pictured here: Tony Mendez at the Washington, D.C. premier of "Argo."

Retired CIA agent Tony Mendez carved out his place in history with the heroic rescue of six State Department employees during the Iranian hostage crisis. His compelling story is the subject of a new film directed by and starring Oscar winner Ben Affleck. Pictured here: Tony Mendez at the Washington, D.C. premier of “Argo.” (Photo/Courtesy Leigh Vogel for Getty Images)

Ben Affleck’s “Argo” film features story of CIA hero Tony Mendez

“Argo” is a captivating suspense thriller based on an intricate CIA plot to rescue six Americans from Tehran during the Iranian hostage crisis; directed by and starring Ben Affleck, it’s a movie film critics are predicting will be a strong contender for “Best Picture” at the 2013 Oscars.

And the plot to smuggle the American hostages out of politically-charged Iran – which involved a nearly unbelievable cover story involving the creation of a fake Hollywood sci-fi movie and disguising the Americans as members of a Canadian movie crew – was single-handedly conceived and executed by real-life hero, retired Central Intelligence Agency officer Antonio “Tony” J. Mendez. Mendez joined the CIA in 1963 as a technical operations officer specializing in slipping into hostile situations and extricating American citizens. He was awarded the Intelligence Star for Valor for the rescue mission but his “Canadian Caper,” was kept secret until it was declassified by President Bill Clinton in 1997. Now, Mendez’ thrilling adventure is the subject of one of the year’s biggest blockbuster thrillers, captured in our gallery of snapshots of the real-life Tony Mendez and Oscar winner Ben Affleck, who plays the Latino from Nevada who became a national hero.

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