Former Olympian and WWII Hero Louis Zamperini Dead at 97

Photo by Kirby Lee/WireImage(NEW YORK) — Louis Zamperini, the former Olympian and World War II hero on whom Angelina Jolie based her upcoming film, Unbroken, died Wednesday at age 97.

A family statement said that Zamperini “peacefully passed away in the presence of his entire family” after a bout with pneumonia.

Zamperini ran the 5,000 meters at the 1936 Berlin Olympics as a member of the U.S. track team, and served as a bombardier during WWII when his plane crashed in the Pacific, where he was captured by the Japanese and held as a POW for two years.

Universal Pictures praised Zamperini’s spirit in a statement and called him an example of “grace, dignity and resilience.”

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