Tony Mendez, former CIA officer portrayed by Ben Affleck in ‘Argo,’ dies

Tony Mendez, a CIA operative who was portrayed by Ben Affleck in the 2012 Oscar-winning movie “Argo,” died Saturday morning, his literary manager Christy Fletcher said.

Tony Mendez pictured arriving at the Oscars on February 24, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

He was 78.

Mendez had Parkinson’s disease, she said, which he had been diagnosed with more that 10 years ago.

“He was a brilliant man, a gifted artist, and a true American hero. I will miss him enormously,” Fletcher said.

He will be buried in Nevada, she said.

Fletcher added that Mendez, the author of several books, died feeling he had written all the stories that he wanted to tell. He and his wife, Jonna Mendez, had just sent their latest book to the publisher, she said.

“The Moscow Rules: The Secret CIA Tactics that Helped America Win the Cold War” is scheduled to be released May 21, publisher PublicAffairs books says on its website.

Argo was based on the smuggling of six US citizens out of Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis. It won three Academy Awards, including best picture.

Affleck paid tribute to Mendez on Saturday, calling him a “true American hero” who “never sought the spotlight for his actions (but) merely sought to serve his country.”

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