Louis Zamperini, Olympic runner, war hero and inspiration for Angelina Jolie film, dead at 97

Jolie on Zamperini: "We are all so grateful for how enriched our lives are for having known him. We will miss him terribly."
By Matt Bradwell   |   July 3, 2014 at 11:25 AM
| License Photo

LOS ANGELES, July 3 (UPI) -- Olympic runner and World War II prisoner of war Louis Zamperini has died at 97 from complications due to pneumonia. Zamperini's life inspired the upcoming collaboration between Angelina Jolie and Joel and Ethan Coen.

"[Louis] recently faced the greatest challenge of his life with a life-threatening case of pneumonia," Zamperini's family said in statement.

"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."

"It is a loss impossible to describe," Jolie said. The Coen brothers have adapted the screenplay and Jolie is stepping behind the lens to direct Unbroken, Universal Pictures' upcoming film about Zamperini's life as both an athlete and prisoner of war.

"We are all so grateful for how enriched our lives are for having known him. We will miss him terribly."

"Louis was truly one of a kind," Universal Pictures said in an official statement. "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."

"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."

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