Former CIA Chief of Disguise Jonna Mendez talks about some of the tactics, gadgets and disguises CIA operatives used in the field during the Cold War.
[Video recording] We love sorting out fact and fiction in spy movies at the Spy Museum. But how about when Hollywood stars are the spies? Join us tonight for some unusual celebrity gossip at this virtual happy hour! We’ll tell you some of our favorite stories about operatives who loved the limelight more than the shadows—your mission: shake up the perfect cocktail or mocktail.
Meet Jonna Mendez, the former CIA Chief of Disguise (a real job!). During her tenure, Mendez oversaw the equipment used by spies to conceal their identities, including a five-second mask, which had been inspired by Hollywood. The technology, developed over a period of 10 years, allowed for facial movement—and, unlike its cinematic counterparts, which required hours in the makeup chair, it could be put on and removed at a moment’s notice. Listen to Mendez explain the ins and outs of this unique piece of spy technology.
In November 1979, 53 American employees of the U.S. Embassy in Iran were taken hostage by Islamic revolutionaries. Six diplomats managed to escape, but getting out of the country seemed impossible. Enter CIA officer Tony Mendez, who used inspiration from Hollywood to school six frightened diplomats in the art of assuming false identities and pulled off a bold rescue mission during one of the darkest moments in American foreign policy history.
As a retired CIA intelligence officer with 27 years of service, her career comprised of multiple under cover assignments. She joined the CIA’s Office of Technical Service (OTS) in early 1970, (often compared to “Q” Branch in the 007 movies), holding the position of Chief of Disguise. She also worked closely with her husband in writing Argo and Moscow Rules. Jonna is a founding board member at the International Spy Museum.
Legendary spy power couple Jonna and Tony Mendez met while working for the CIA in the Soviet Union, building the tools of espionage: the disguise kit, the camera that could hide anywhere, the cyanide pen. There they followed guidelines they called the “Moscow Rules” — now the name of a new book they co-wrote before Tony’s death. Jonna Mendez talks with Nick Schifrin about their work and mission.
Join us for a conversation with a real-life spy about her experiences as a covert operative and her role in the advancement of the American intelligence strategy that helped America win the Cold War.
Join Jonna for the launch of the Mendez’s new book THE MOSCOW RULES Tactics That Helped America Win the Cold War, where she and her late husband Tony tell the story of the intelligence breakthrough that turned the odds in America’s favor.
In 1777, Gen. George Washington established the country’s first spy network to take on the British during the Revolutionary War. That is where America’s spy story begins, but the $162 million International Spy Museum, in Washington, D.C., is re-imagining what spycraft looks like today.
The Washington Post – The new Spy Museum is bigger, bolder and more beautiful. Here are the 10 things you shouldn’t miss.
THE WASHINGTON POST
The familiar sleek lines of James Bond’s Aston Martin greet visitors in the modern glass lobby of the new International Spy Museum, a welcome nod to the institution’s entertaining roots. But suspended overhead is an Amber Drone, precursor of the CIA’s remotely piloted Predator aircraft and an early clue that the new version brings a little edge to the fun and games.
Jonna Mendez, former CIA Chief of Disguise, takes a look at spy scenes from a variety of television shows and movies and breaks down how accurate they really are.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Jonna Mendez got the chance to talk Friday at the VIP reception for the Maryland International Film Festival. Mendez says it was an honor to award Gov. Hogan with the Mendez award, named after her late husband Tony Mendez.
THE WASHINGTON POST
A forgery artist and master of disguise for the CIA, Tony Mendez once transformed a black agent and an Asian diplomat into a pair of white business executives, using masks that gave them an uncanny resemblance to the movie stars Victor Mature and Rex Harrison.
Former Chief of Disguise for the CIA, Jonna Mendez, explains how disguises are used in the CIA, and what aspects to the deception make for an effective disguise.
TIMES TALKS D.C.
Join us in Washington, D.C., for a rare conversation with Academy Award–winning actress Jennifer Lawrence about Russian espionage, double–dealing and female empowerment – the subjects of the new spy thriller “Red Sparrow,” opening nationwide March 2.
INTERNATIONAL SPY MUSEUM
Reporters Michael Schmidt and Scott Shane, joined by a former CIA officer and chief of disguise, Jonna Hiestand Mendez, will explain all they know — and don’t know— and take you behind the reporting scenes in a discussion moderated by the Times editor who has worked on many of these stories, Mark Mazzetti.
THE NEW YORK TIMES
We’re with Jonna Mendez, also known as the “master of disguise,” to discuss her 27 years of work at the CIA. She’ll show us some of her best-kept disguise secrets too. Comment with questions, and NYT reporter Matthew Rosenberg will ask some.
Hear real stories from real spies as they share their “Bond” moments.
Jonna Mendez spans over twenty-seven years with the CIA including serving as the Chief of Disguise. Her duties included instructing the CIA’s most highly placed foreign assets in the use of spy assets and the processing of intelligence gathered by them.