(Adds background, Universal Pictures statement)
July 3 Louis Zamperini, an American prisoner of
war in World War Two and Olympic runner whose life inspired the
book and upcoming feature film "Unbroken," has died at age 97,
Universal Pictures said in a statement.
Zamperini died after a 40-day bout with pneumonia, his
family said in a statement released by the film studio.
"Louis was truly one of a kind," Universal Pictures said.
"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
Zamperini survived weeks on an inflatable raft and two years
in captivity by the Japanese after his plane crashed during
World War Two.
An American-born son of Italian immigrants, Zamperini
competed in the 5,000-meter race in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.
Angelina Jolie, who directed the upcoming film based on the
2010 book detailing his life by Laura Hillenbrand, expressed her
sadness about Zamperini's death in a statement released by
"It is a loss impossible to describe," Jolie said. "We are
all so grateful for how enriched our lives are for having known
him. We will miss him terribly."
In May, Zamperini was named grand marshal of the 2015 Rose
Parade, in Pasadena, California.
(Reporting by Jonathan Kaminsky in New Orleans; Editing by
Colleen Jenkins, Susan Heavey and Eric Beech)