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Snapshots in History: October 15: Remembering Kenneth Taylor

October 16, 2015 | John P. | Comments (0)

 

 

On October 15 and beyond, take a moment to remember the contributions of former Canadian ambassador to Iran Kenneth Douglas “Ken” Taylor (Born: May 10, 1934 in Calgary, Alberta; Died: October 15, 2015 in New York City, New York) who died of Stage 4 colorectal cancer. Ken Taylor is best remembered amongst Canadians for masterminding the “Canadian Caper” in which he procured Canadian passports to help six American embassy staff members escape with the assistance of two Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives from Tehran, Iran on January 27, 1980 following the seizure of the American embassy on November 4, 1979 during the unfolding of the Iranian Revolution. The group pretended to be a Hollywood film crew working on a science-fiction film called Argo. Following his departure from Iran, Ken Taylor became Canadian Consul-General in New York City. In 1980, Mr. Taylor, his wife Pat, and others involved in the escape were made Officers of the Order of Canada. Mr. Taylor also received the Congressional Gold Medal from the United States of America. He served for several years as the Chancellor of Victoria University within the University of Toronto (from where he had graduated earlier with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree. Mr. Taylor also earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from the University of California at Berkeley). Upon leaving the Canadian Foreign Service in 1984, Ken Taylor worked in the private sector as Senior Vice-President of RJR Nabisco from 1984 to 1989 and also founded and chaired a public consulting firm called Taylor and Ryan.

Some controversy resulted following the release of the film “Argo” with Ben Affleck (who directed as well as portrayed CIA operative Tony Mendez) which showed a fictionalized account of the rescue of the six American hostages in which the Canadian contribution, especially that of Ambassador Taylor, was downplayed. Not only was this issue raised at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) but former President Jimmy Carter, who was American Commander-In-Chief during the “Canadian Caper”, confirmed “…that 90 percent of the contributions to the ideas and the consummation of the plan was Canadian. And the movie gives almost full credit to the American CIA. And with that exception, the movie is very good.” (Read Brian D. Johnson’s September 12, 2012 review of the film Argo in Maclean’s magazine.) However, the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) showcased the documentary “Our Man in Tehran” that told what actually happened during the “Canadian Caper”. (Read Simon Houpt’s review of the documentary in The Globe and Mail.)

Consider the following items for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:

 

Our man in Tehran the true story behind the secret mission to save six Americans during the Iran Hostage Crisis and the foreign ambassador who worked with the CIA to bring them home Our man in Tehran the true story behind the secret mission to save six Americans during the Iran Hostage Crisis and the foreign ambassador who worked with the CIA to bring them home Our man in Tehran the true story behind the secret mission to save six Americans during the Iran Hostage Crisis and the foreign ambassador who worked with the CIA to bring them home Talking Book

Book                            eBook                            Talking Book

 

Argo Our Man in Tehran the true story of Argo

Feature DVD                    Documentary DVD

 

 

(See also: Snapshots in History: October 15: Remembering Hurricane Hazel)

(See also: Snapshots in History: October 15: Remembering John Kenneth Galbraith)

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