Former Canadian diplomat Ken Taylor dies at 81
Last Updated Thursday, October 15, 2015 6:24PM EDT
Ken Taylor, the former Canadian ambassador to Iran who famously helped six Americans escape Tehran after the 1979 hostage crisis, has died.
Taylor’s family confirmed to CTV News that he died on Thursday. He was 81.
As Canada’s ambassador to Iran, Taylor played a key role in the rescue mission carried out by the Canadian government and the CIA. Known as the “Canadian Caper,](http://international.gc.ca/history-histoire/people-gens/ken_taylor.aspx?lang=eng)” the mission inspired the 2012 Ben Affleck movie “Argo.”
In interviews, Taylor said that he was disappointed by the film](http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/02/23/canada-ambassador-slighted-argo/1941165/) because it made Canada look like a bystander in a heroic CIA operation.
In reality, it was Taylor and other Canadians who sheltered the Americans at great personal risk.
Taylor also helped arrange airline tickets and fake passports for the six Americans who fled the U.S. Embassy in Tehran after it was attacked by radical supporters of Ayatollah Khomeini.
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.”
In an email to CTV News, Clark said Taylor was “also a valued friend to me and to others who were privileged to know and work with him.”
In a statement, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he was saddened by Taylor’s death.
“As Canada’s Ambassador to Iran during the Iranian Revolution, Taylor valiantly risked his own life by shielding a group of American diplomats from capture,” Harper said.
“Ken Taylor represented the very best that Canada’s foreign service has to offer.”
Taylor’s son Douglas told CTV News Channel Thursday that his father “lived life to the fullest” and tried to enjoy every day,despite his illness.
Douglas Taylor said some of his father’s closest friends didn’t even realize how ill he was,because he didn’t want to talk about his health.
“He wanted to talk about how they’re doing and he wanted to talk about sports or politics.”
As for his role in the hostage crisis, Taylor “never looked for individual praise,” his son said.
“He always positioned it as something that was a reflection of Canada and everybody else that was at the embassy.”
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.
Taylor is also survived by his wife Pat.