Louis Zamperini, a former Olympic runner and WWII veteran whose life becomes the subject of Angelina Jolie-directed movie "Unbroken", has passed away at the age of 97 from pneumonia. Universal Pictures confirmed the sad news in statements released on early Thursday, July 3.
"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," read a message from his family. "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."
Jolie has also reacted to the sad news. She said in a statement, "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."
"We are so profoundly sad at this moment and all of our thoughts and prayers are with the Zamperini family," Universal Pictures added. "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."
"Unbroken", whose script is based on Laura Hillenbrand's book "Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption" from Zamperini's life, is set to be released on December 25. The movie centers on Zamperini, played by Jack O'Connell, as his plane crashes in the Pacific. He survives the incident only to be captured by the Japanese Navy for two years until the war ends.