Louis Zamperini has passed away at the age of 97. Olympic athlete and World War II hero, Zamperini was the subject of Laura Hillenbrand’s biography which has been adapted for the forthcoming film, Unbroken, directed by Angelina Jolie.
Zamperini’s family released a statement saying, “Having overcome insurmountable odds at every turn in his life, Olympic runner and World War II hero Louis Zamperini has never broken down from a challenge. He recently faced the greatest challenge of his life with a life-threatening case of pneumonia. After a 40-day long battle for his life, he peacefully passed away in the presence of his entire family, leaving behind a legacy that has touched so many lives. His indomitable courage and fighting spirit were never more apparent than in these last days.”
Universal Pictures, who are behind Jolie’s movie, issued this tribute:
“We are so profoundly sad at this moment and all of our thoughts and prayers are with the Zamperini family. Louis was truly one of a kind. He lived the most remarkable life, not because of the many unbelievable incidents that marked his near century’s worth of years, but because of the spirit with which he faced every one of them.
Confronting challenges that would cause most of us to surrender, Louie always persevered and always prevailed, and he spent the better part of his lifetime sharing the message that you could do the same. His example of grace, dignity and resilience inspired all of us lucky enough to know him and the millions who got to know him from the pages of Laura’s book. We move forward to the release of Unbroken with a renewed sense of responsibility in bringing Louie’s abundant life and indomitable spirit to the screen. Now more than ever, we join Angelina in honoring the lessons and legacy of this extraordinary man who has meant so much to so many.”
Zamperini was a World War II survivor, a prisoner of war, and was an Olympic long distance runner, participating in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. He captured the attention of Adolf Hitler, who requested a meeting with the young Zamperini and told him, “Ah, you’re the boy with the fast finish.”
In 1941, Zamperini joined the US Army and fought in the Pacific. He was captured and held as a Japanese prisoner of war for two years.
Laura Hillenbrand wrote his biography in 2010, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. The Cohen brothers adapted the film and Jolie directed the film. Unbroken, begins in 1943.
Jolie says, “It is a loss impossible to describe. We are all so grateful for how enriched our lives are for having known him. We will miss him terribly.”
Louis Zamperini embraced by his family upon returning home after WWII.
(submitted by Jazz Tangcay)