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Canadian Envoy Who Hid Americans During Iran Hostage Crisis Dies

Portrait of former Canadian Ambassador to Iran, Ken Taylor, taken on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York, October 5, 2012.

Former Canadian ambassador to Iran Ken Taylor, who sheltered six Americans during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, has died at the age of 81.

His family said Taylor died Thursday after a two-month battle with colon cancer.

As Canada’s envoy to Iran, Taylor played a key role in the rescue mission carried out by the Canadian government and the CIA. The mission inspired Ben Affleck's 2012 Acadamy Award-wining movie Argo.

Taylor kept the Americans hidden at his residence and at the home of his deputy, John Sheardown, in Tehran for three months. Taylor facilitated their escape by arranging plane tickets and persuading the Ottawa government to issue fake passports.

Former Canadian prime minister Joe Clark, who was in office during the Iranian hostage crisis, called Taylor a “Canadian hero” and “an example of what we can be at our best.”

For his actions in Iran, Taylor was awarded the U.S. Congressional gold medal. In 1980, he was made an officer of the Order of Canada.

After his return from Iran, Taylor was appointed Canada’s Consul-General in New York.

He is survived by his wife and son.