Louis Zamperini, a World War II hero about whom Angelina Jolie recently made a movie, died last night at his home in Hollywood.
He was 97 years old.
A statement released by Universal Pictures on Thursday morning included a message from Zamperini’s family. It reads:
"Having overcome insurmountable odds at every turn in his life, Olympic runner and World War II hero Louis Zamperini has never broken down from a challenge. He recently faced the greatest challenge of his life with a life-threatening case of pneumonia.
"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."
Zamperini was a member of the U.S. Olympic track team in 1936. He then enlisted in the Army five years later and survived without food and water for 47 days after his plane crashed in the Pacific.
He washed ashore in Japan and was subsequently held captive as a prisoner of war for two years.
Jolie, whose Christmas Day release is based on the best-selling book Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, said in a statement of her own:
"It is a loss impossible to describe. We are all so grateful for how enriched our lives are for having known him. We will miss him terribly."