By Benjamin Svetkey
Updated February 10, 2010 at 11:41 PM EST

Charlie Wilson, the colorful congressman who inspired the Tom Hanks-Julia Roberts movie Charlie Wilson’s War, died Wednesday at age 76, according to Wilson had been suffering from heart trouble for years, and had been given a transplant in 2007, just before the release of the film, which told the story of Wilson’s covert campaign to defend Afghan rebels in their war against the Soviet Union in the 1980s. “Charlie walks in,” Hanks described his first meeting with Wilson in a 2007 interview with EW, “and he’s wearing cowboy boots, a brown pair of slacks, a purple shirt, and mismatching suspenders with little Spitfire airplanes on them that he’s run under the epaulets of his shirt. Half my work was done right there.”