Louis Zamperini dies at 97

Louis Zamperini dies at 97

Angelina Jolie and Louis Zamperini

4 Jul – Olympic runner and World War II hero Louis Zamperini has died after giving his last fight at the age of 97.

According to a statement released from the family, Zamperini, who is the subject of Angelina Jolie's upcoming biopic "Unbroken", was finally called to rest after battling for 40 days against pneumonia. He passed away peacefully in the company of family and friends.

"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," a statement from Universal Pictures said.

Director Angelina Jolie called Zamperini's death 'a loss impossible to describe'.

Angelina Jolie on the set of "Unbroken"

"Unbroken" is an adapation of a book on Louis Zamperini written by Laura Hillenbrand, who also wrote the soure material for Gary Ross' "Seabiscuit".

Zamperini was a long-distance runner for the American team in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin and had met with Hitler who was impressed by Zamperini, even though Zamperini did not finish with a medal.

When World War II broke out, Zamperini enlisted into the Air Force and went to war in the Pacific. After being shot down during a rescue mission, Zamperini and two other crew mates survived on the water for 47 days before being captured by the Japanese Navy and kept in a prisoner camp until the end of the war.

"Unbroken" will star Jack O'Connell as Zamperini, alongside Jai Courtney, Garrett Hedlund and Domhall Gleeson. It is currently slated for release on 25 December in the United States.