Ken Taylor, ambassador who hid Americans during Iran hostage crisis, dies at 81

Ken Taylor.
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Ken Taylor, the Canadian ambassador to Iran who during the 1979 hostage crisis hid Americans in his residence, died Thursday from colon cancer. He was 81.

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After the U.S. Embassy was overrun, six diplomats were able to escape, and for three months they were sheltered in Taylor's house in Tehran and the home of his deputy, John Sheardown. To help them slip out of the country, Taylor arranged for plane tickets and convinced the Canadian government to issue fake passports. "He did all sorts of things for everyone without any expectation of something coming back," his wife, Pat Taylor, told The Associated Press. "It's why that incident in Iran happened. There was no second thought about it. He just went ahead and did it. His legacy is that giving is what is important, not receiving. With all his friends that's what he did."

Taylor was not a fan of the 2012 movie Argo, based on what happened in Iran. Along with others, including former President Jimmy Carter, Taylor thought it downplayed the role of Canada in the clandestine operation, AP reports. "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," Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said. "Ken Taylor represented the very best that Canada's foreign service has to offer." In addition to his wife Pat, Taylor is survived by son Douglas and his wife, Dana, and two grandchildren.

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.