Arts & Entertainment

Carlos D. Luria, CIA Officer, Presents the Real ARGO Orperation

July 23, 2013 at 5:11 PM

LIVINGSTON, NJ - Carlos D. Luria, the CIA Executive Officer of the component that had primary responsibility for the ARGO case, gave a presentation Monday night at the Livingston Public Library. Luria explained to residents of the area the bizarre approach used in the ARGO operation and what differences there were from the actual events of ARGO to the movie version. The presentation was sponsored by The Friends of the Library Literary Liaisons Series.

ARGO tells the story of how the CIA disguised six Americans as a movie crew, helping them escape the country undetected, after they became stranded in hiding there. The Americans had become targets for Iranian capture when they escaped a mob attack on the U.S. Embassy they had worked at.

Recently, in 2012, the events were turned into a film that won the Academy Award for Best Picture of the Year. Despite enjoying the film, Luria said there were a number of inconsistencies between it and the actual events.

Sign Up for E-News

“The movie focuses on the escape. That was the easy part. The serious problem was how to protect the trapped Americans while they were still in Iran,” Luria said. “They had to be instructed on what it takes to be a film crew, look like a film crew, smell like a film crew. They had to be prepared to meet the public. This preparation took most of the eighty-eight days they were there.”

Luria went on to say that the movie failed to mention a key player in the ARGO operation: Bob Sidell, a retired movie makeup artist and CIA collaborator.  “Sidell in addition to Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck’s character in the film) coached the six American’s on how to be a movie crew.” Luria explained that Sidell interrogated the Americans making sure they knew every detail of their pseudo personalities back-hand and forward, right down to what they carried in their wallets. “I want to give Sidell credit for the work he did,” Luria said.

Another divergence from the actual events, Luria explained, was in the area of makeup.

Luria explained that due to the nature of the work the six Americans performed at the U.S. embassy, they could be easily recognized in public. The stranded Americans, thus, needed to be changed in more than just name, but in physical appearance as well.

The film alluded to how the film Planet of the Apes triggered an epiphany in the Mendez character, helping him to realize that the CIA could camouflage the six trapped Americans as a film crew.  Luria said that the Planet of the Apes film triggered a similar, but slightly different epiphany for Mendez and the CIA in real life. “In the film, the humans wore masks to change and reshape their faces, making them look like apes.” The plan was thus brought forward to use masks and wigs to disguise the Americans’ identities.

Another detail Luria delved deeper into was the background work history of Tony Mendez, which was not touched upon in the movie. Tony Mendez initially had no intention of joining the CIA. “Tony Mendez wanted to be a graphic artist, but couldn’t get any work,” Luria said. “Everyone kept saying, ‘Your work is great, but it’s too realistic.’ People wanted fantasy art. Eventually he applied for a job in a Washington post wanted ad. The interviewer said, ‘Your work is precise, exact, and it’s exactly what we need.’” Mendez, of course, only later learned that he was applying for an Authentication position, where he would be forging paperwork for the CIA.

Following Luria’s presentation, questions were taken from the audience. “Are you going to have to kill us after this?” one man joked. “I meant to tell you about that before we started,” Luria answered.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News


New Eyes for the Needy in Short Hills Receives $100,000 Matching Gift from Anonymous Donor

December 6, 2016

SHORT HILLS, NJ - New Eyes for the Needy, a Short Hills-based non-profit organization, has received a substantial matching gift for donations received in the year-end fund raising appeal. An anonymous donor will match all donations received through January 2017 (up to $100,000).

Founded in 1932, New Eyes has been able to assist more than eight-million children and adults in financial need ...

Randolph's Brendan Fletcher Reaches Top 8 on NBC’s “The Voice”

December 4, 2016

LOS ANGELES, CA - “And though the course may change sometimes, rivers always reach the sea,” Led Zepplin, Ten Years Gone

After years of changing his course, living in New Jersey, Boston, Brooklyn, and Charleston, all while singing in small local bars, at open mic nights, and working as a bartender to make ends meet, Randolph’s Brendan Fletcher always ...

Don't Sacrifice the Environment to Fund the State Treasury

November 23, 2016

Dear Editor:

New Jersey’s Natural Resource Damages (NRD) program is an incredibly important and necessary program rising from the state’s history of incremental spills and discharges, as well as historic industrialization. 

NRD requires polluters to go beyond the mandated cleanup and to pay damages for restoration and compensation for the public loss of use of natural ...

Friends of the Livingston Library Restocks Its Ongoing Book Sale for December

December 1, 2016

LIVINGSTON, NJ — Friends of the Livingston Library has fully restocked its Ongoing Book Sale for the month of December. On a monthly basis, Friends takes down all stock and replaces it with entirely new inventory. 

This is the “Friends flip.” Approximately 1200 items of fiction, non-fiction, children’s books, DVDs, and CDs are available at great ...

Andy’s Family Music Showcases Alex Weiss on Drums

LIVINGSTON, NJ — Andy’s Family Music Center of Livingston is proud to highlight 11-year-old Alex Weiss, a fifth grader at Collins Elementary School with an aptitude for drums.

Alex studies drums at Andy’s under the instruction of Joe Vitello. He says hid favorite band is Fall Out Boy and that his dad is his number one musical influence.

Check him out in the video ...

Q/A With Owners of Meadowbrook Country Day Camp

Recently, the owners of Meadowbrook Country Day Camp, Dan Milman and George Stein, took part in a fun Question and Answer session. Below are the questions and their responses. To learn more about Milman, Stein and Meadowbrook, click here to read a recent article that ran on


George: A six lb.

Getting a Handle on Thanksgiving

This year, on our National Day of Thanks, I would like to express my gratitude for having hands.

We typically don’t thank our body parts because they seldom leave us.  Most of us have not experienced unfortunate accidents or suffered the horrible consequences of war; tragic events  which might cause us to lose a limb.  

Most of us take our fingers and hands and elbows ...

Beckerman’s Theory of Everything

Any armchair theoretical physicist knows that Stephen Hawking has pursued a lifelong quest to come up with a Theory of Everything. This all-encompassing theory would tie together general relativity (large scale and high mass galaxies, stars, etc), quantum theory (quantum mechanics, quarks, atoms, subatomic particles), and Newtonian physics (gravity on small bodies, gas laws, electromagnetism) to ...