(CNN)Michael "Mad Mike" Hoare, one of the world's best-known mercenaries, has died at the age of 100, his family has confirmed.
A former accountant, Hoare gained fame -- and inspired a movie -- for leading mercenaries in 1964-5 during the Congo Crisis and later organizing a failed coup in the Seychelles.
Chris Hoare, his son and biographer, told CNN: "He lived to be 100 even though he embraced the philosophy that you can get more out of life by living dangerously -- which makes his hundred all the more extraordinary."
Michael Hoare was born in India in 1919 to Irish parents and was educated at boarding school in England, where he was influenced by the military stories of a teacher who had served in the Boer War.
After serving in the British Army in India and Burma during World War II, he qualified as a chartered accountant in 1948 and moved to South Africa to pursue a new life.
Citing a motorbike trip his father made from Cape Town to Cairo in 1953, Chris Hoare said he was "an adventurer long before he became a mercenary leader."
But it wasn't until the early 1960s -- after stints in accountancy and as a car dealer -- that he went back to soldiering.
According to his son, he was driven by "anti-communist fervor" to lead a unit of mercenaries -- nicknamed "the Wild Geese" -- fighting a revolt in what was then known as Congo-Léopoldville, now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo.