Tony Mendez: The Man Behind the Myth

Antonio Joseph Mendez

A former Chief of Disguise and Chief of the Graphics and Authentication Division in the CIA’s Office of Technical Service, Tony’s 25-year career with the Agency included undercover work in the most important theaters of the Cold War. He conducted the secret rescue of six U.S. diplomats during the Iran hostage crisis in 1980. That operation was the basis of the 2012 blockbuster and Oscar-nominated film ARGO starring Ben Affleck as Mr. Mendez. He earned the CIA's Intelligence Medal of Merit, the Intelligence Star, and two Certificates of Distinction. In 2013 Mr. Mendez was awarded the honorary Samuel J. Heyman Service to America medal.

Tony is currently a landscape painter, author, lecturer, and consultant on intelligence matters and served as a consultant to the CBS television series “The Agency.” His books include The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA and Spy Dust: A True Story of Espionage and Romance, written with his wife Jonna. The newly released paperback edition of ARGO debuted this month at No. 10 on The New York Times® Bestsellers List.

Jonna MendezJonna Hiestand Mendez

A former Chief of Disguise in the CIA’s Office of Technical Service, Jonna is also a specialist in clandestine photography. Her 27-year career, for which she received the Intelligence Commendation Medal, included operational disguise responsibilities in the most hostile theaters of the Cold War, from Havana to Moscow to Beijing and ultimately into the Oval Office. She is currently a fine arts photographer, author, lecturer, and consultant on intelligence matters and served as a technical consultant to the CBS television series “The Agency.” 

Both are founding board members of the International Spy Museum.