3A CIA Agent, a Comic Book Legend and a Makeup Artist Rescue Hostages
One was the guy who did the makeup effects on the film Planet of the Apes, the other a comic book artist who co-created the X-Men, The Incredible Hulk and The Fantastic Four. They and the CIA teamed up to save some damned hostages using a plan that was less James Bond and more Austin Powers.
In 1979, radical supporters of the Ayatollah Khomeini attacked the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took everyone hostage ... everyone but six employees, who managed to escape and find refuge in a Canadian ambassador's home. But those six refugees were stuck in hostile territory, with no one to help them. The CIA needed a way into Tehran to mount their rescue. CIA technical operations officer Anthony Mendez came up with one of the most elaborate and quite frankly ridiculous ideas possible.
"From now on, we play by Hollywood rules."
He'd need help to pull it off. Enter Hollywood makeup artist John Chambers and comic book artist/illustrator Jack Kirby. Mendez took one look at the both of them and said, "Yes, this is exactly the team I need." He called the operation "The Canadian Caper." No, really.
Holy Unsettling Book Cover, Batman!
He knew that, despite the radicals taking over an embassy and declaring jihad against the U.S., the Iranian government was actively trying to attract foreign business into the country. Mendez thus entered Tehran claiming to be an Irish film producer there to scout the location for his (completely fake) sci-fi epic, Argo. To sell the story, Chambers and Mendez created a fictional production company called Studio Six Productions. They named it that partially to honor the six people they intended to save, and partially because Mendez wanted to make Iran feel extra shitty once they figured out what had happened.
They came up with a fake movie script (a script of an abandoned project Chambers had on hand) and had Jack Kirby create fake concept art.
Turns out the afterlife also has TSA body searches. They just happen in the crotch of a giant Mayan God.
Kirby went so far as to design an entire theme park to go along with the movie called Science Fiction Land that contained magnetically levitated elevators, a control room staffed by robots and a dome that was twice as tall as the Empire State Building. It was like everyone involved in the Canadian Caper had a hard time weighing the prospect of being caught with making something as radical as possible.
"Next, we'll build a massive oil drill and claim it's a space dock."
With all the bullshit ready, Mendez entered Iran while his "equipment" was being sent via diplomatic pouch to the Canadian embassy. The pouch, in reality, contained the Canadian passports, costumes, Kirby's art and filming equipment that would let them pretend they were doing movie stuff. Mendez met with the refugees, explained the cover story and assigned them new identities and roles in the production of the movie, to which they almost certainly replied, "No. That's ridiculous. Send the real CIA."
"No. No way this is your plan. Is that a napkin?"
Eventually the refugees got into their "movie people" costumes, disguises that included unbuttoned shirts and silver medallions, and it worked. Their fake documentation and cover story allowed them all the freedom to walk around Tehran without problems before they eventually boarded a plane and got the hell out. It was likely the only time in history where a plan that was legitimately "So crazy it might work" was actually successful.
Argo is finally getting filmed, but instead of a sci-fi extravaganza it will be based on the real events, with Ben Affleck as Mendez.
2Andrew Jackson and Davy Crockett Take on an Assassin
One was a controversial and divisive American president who didn't shy away from getting in gun duels with his opponents; the other was a frontier folk hero destined to die at the Alamo.
Despite the fact that both Andrew Jackson and Davy Crockett were whiskey-drinking badasses who loved the American frontier enough to have sex with it, they surprisingly did not get along all that well. Crockett didn't like Jackson's treatment (read: genocide) of the Native Americans, and Jackson refused to buy into any of the stories that made Davy Crockett a living legend.
The first recorded case of jumping the shark.
Even though Crockett was a staunch Anti-Jacksonian, on January 30, 1835, he set aside personal politics in order to help President Jackson subdue his would-be assassin Richard Lawrence just outside the U.S. Capitol.
Jackson may be wearing funeral attire, but it's definitely not for his own.
As recalled by Jackson himself, when he saw the assassin raise his pistol, "I therefore raised my cane, with which I knew I could give such a stroke as to break his pistol arm, and was rushing on him when some of my friends seized him by the collar and pushed me back, thereby placing me in great danger."
"I could have had him, man."
Then, who should come flying out of the crowd but Jackson's enemy, Davy Crockett, not to hand the assassin a bigger gun, but to grab the gunman. Crockett and other members of the crowd put a beatdown on the assassin, while President Jackson himself started whaling on the guy with his cane.
So, there you have it. Hate gave these two men a common ground on which to stand. A frontier legend wrestled the gunman to the ground so that a president could beat him within an inch of his life using a piece of wood. That's American history, folks.
Stay tuned for our next article to feature Andrew Jackson, "7 American Presidents Who Dueled Elder Gods."