Former Canadian ambassador to Iran Ken Taylor, who was best known for covertly assisting six Americans to freedom during the Iran hostage crisis, died on Thursday at the age of 81. Taylor was serving as ambassador in Tehran in 1979, when he and his wife sheltered American diplomats for three months as they hid from authorities after the American embassy had been overrun.
The escape became known as “The Canadian Caper” and Taylor’s well-documented exploits were immortalized in the Oscar-winning 2012 film Argo. “Taylor’s wife said he was diagnosed with cancer in August and that friends from Canada, the U.S. and elsewhere visited him at New York Presbyterian hospital where he was being treated,” the Associated Press reports.
The portrayal in the movie of Canada’s role in the operation irked critics concerned about the historical accuracy of the film, as it portrayed the CIA as the catalyst for dramatic escape. “The movie’s fun, it’s thrilling, it’s pertinent, it’s timely,” Taylor said in 2012 of Argo. “But look, Canada was not merely standing around watching events take place. The CIA was a junior partner.”