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Inspiration for Angelina Jolie's 'Unbroken' Louis Zamperini is dead

Louis Zamperini had such a dynamic life he inspired the book and Angelina Jolie movie "Unbroken." Zamperini is dead at 97 years old reported The Hollywood Reporter on July 3, 2014. A spokesperson for Universal Pictures said Zamperini died following a case of pneumonia.

Louis Zamperini presents an award at the Golden Goggles at JW Marriott Los Angeles at L.A. LIVE.
Photo by Noel Vasquez

There was a message from his family in a statement released by Universal Pictures saying Zamperini overcame insurmountable odds at every turn in his life. The Olympic runner and World War II hero is said to have never backed down from a challenge. The greatest challenge of his life came with a life-threatening case of pneumonia. He displayed his indomitable courage and fighting spirit during his last days of life.

Angelina Jolie directed the 2014 movie about the life of Zamperini which is based on the best-selling book "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand. Jolie said the loss of Zamperini is a loss which is impossible to describe. She says everyone who knew him is grateful for how he enriched their lives and for having known him. He will be terribly missed. Universal will release the film adaptation of Zamperini's remarkable story on Dec. 25, 2014.

Zamperini was a World War II prisoner of war survivor and former Olympic distance runner reports the Chicago Tribune. He battled pneumonia for 40 long days before peacefully passing away from this world with his entire family present. He has left a legacy behind him which has touched many lives.

Zamperini was born in Orlean, New York, on January 26, 1917, to Italian immigrant parents. When he was a child be moved to Torrance, California with his family. At 19 years old he was the youngest American qualifier the Olympic 5,000 meter event. He was a member of the 1936 U.S. Olympic track team in Berlin.

In 1941 Zamperini enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force and was deployed to the Pacific as a bombardier on a B-24 Liberator bomber. The story "Unbroken" follows the crashing of his Air Force plane in the Pacific. He and two others survived the crash without food and water for 47 days before they washed up ashore on a Japanese island behind enemy lines. Zamperini was held as a prisoner of war for two years.

After the war was over Zamperini returned to his family in America with a hero's welcome. He than married Cynthia Applewhite in 1946 who was with him until her death in 2001. In January 1988 on his 81st birthday he returned to Japan and ran a leg in the Olympic Torch relay for the Winter Olympics in Nagano.

Zamperini was saddened when all of his buddies from earlier in life died as he aged but he said making friends with Jolie helped make up for that. He said Jolie really loved him and hugged and kissed him and so he couldn't complain. There's no doubt Zamperini offered Brad Pitt some stiff competition for the love of Jolie.

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