John Sheardown, Canadian 'hero' in Iran hostage crisis, dies
March 7, 2013 -- Updated 1647 GMT (0047 HKT)
- John Sheardown helped to smuggle six American diplomats out of Iran in 1980
- The story was made famous again this year by the release of the movie 'Argo'
- Sheardown suffered from Alzheimer's and had cancer, his son says
(CNN) -- John Sheardown, a Canadian immigration officer who helped shelter and smuggle six American diplomats out of Iran in 1980, has died, his son said Monday. He was 88.
Sheardown had Alzheimer's and suffered from colon and prostate cancer, said Robin Sheardown, who described his father as his best friend. John Sheardown died Sunday night at a hospital in Ottawa, Canada.
"He was a very humble man and a real Canadian hero," his son told CNN.
John Sheardown played a key role in what has become known as the "Canadian Caper," a covert operation by the Canadian government and the CIA to rescue six American diplomats who eluded capture during the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
Embassy workers discuss the real 'Argo'
The episode was made famous again this year by the release of the hit movie "Argo," loosely based on the real-life drama. The film, however, left out Sheardown's contributions.
Sheardown was an immigration officer at the Canadian Embassy in Tehran when students and militants stormed the U.S. Embassy there on November 4, 1979, taking more than 50 Americans hostage. Just half a dozen evaded capture.
Sheardown and Ken Taylor, the Canadian ambassador to Iran, hid those six envoys in their homes, protecting them until they could be spirited out of the country with Canadian passports in late January 1980.
"John Sheardown remained a very humble man, always willing to stay in the shadow of others, and the people of Windsor remain extremely proud of his diplomatic intervention and career accomplishments," read a proclamation that declared November 10, 2012, "John Sheardown Day" in the city of Windsor, in Ontario, Canada.
According to that proclamation, Sheardown, a Windsor native, was shot down while serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II. He worked with his country's customs and immigration department before joining Canada's foreign service, it said.
Read more: 'Argo' recognizes forgotten heroes of crisis
Part of complete coverage on
May 20, 2013 -- Updated 2347 GMT (0747 HKT)
Click through our gallery to remember those we lost this year.
May 21, 2013 -- Updated 1914 GMT (0314 HKT)
The Doors' founding keyboardist, Ray Manzarek, died in Germany after a long fight with cancer at age 74.
May 17, 2013 -- Updated 1226 GMT (2026 HKT)
Richard "Dick" Trickle -- who parlayed a legendary reputation as a short-track driver into a full-time career on stock car racing's biggest stages in the 1990s -- died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
May 14, 2013 -- Updated 1326 GMT (2126 HKT)
Joyce Brothers, who pioneered the television advice show and was called the mother of media psychology, has died at age 85.
May 9, 2013 -- Updated 1106 GMT (1906 HKT)
Jeanne Cooper, who played Katherine Chancellor, the "Dame of Genoa City," on "The Young and the Restless," has died at age 84.
May 8, 2013 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
Ray Harryhausen, the stop-motion animation and special-effects master whose work influenced such directors as Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson and George Lucas, has died.
May 3, 2013 -- Updated 0102 GMT (0902 HKT)
Grammy-winning guitarist Jeff Hanneman, a founding member of the heavy metal band Slayer, died of liver failure.
May 2, 2013 -- Updated 2206 GMT (0606 HKT)
Chris Kelly, one-half of the 1990s rap duo Kris Kross, died at an Atlanta hospital after he was found unresponsive at his home. He was 34.
April 29, 2013 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
George Jones, whose graceful, evocative voice gave depth to some of the greatest songs in country music, has died.
April 24, 2013 -- Updated 1645 GMT (0045 HKT)
Allan Arbus, the actor who played psychiatrist Maj. Sidney Freedman in the M*A*S*H television series, has died at age 95.
April 9, 2013 -- Updated 1514 GMT (2314 HKT)
Annette Funicello, one of the best-known members of the original 1950s "Mickey Mouse Club" and a star of numerous 1960s "beach party" films, has died at age 70.
April 9, 2013 -- Updated 0149 GMT (0949 HKT)
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a towering figure in postwar British and world politics and the only woman to become British prime minister, died at the age of 87.
April 8, 2013 -- Updated 1804 GMT (0204 HKT)
Iconic fashion designer Lilly Pulitzer Rousseau died in Palm Beach, Florida, surrounded by family.
April 5, 2013 -- Updated 1222 GMT (2022 HKT)
The last hand in the "two thumbs up" film critic team, Roger Ebert, died two days after revealing cancer returned to his body.
Today's five most popular stories