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Louis Zamperini
Louis Zamperini at announcement of 2015 Tournament of Roses Grand Marshal.JPG
Louis Zamperini in May 2014.
Louis Silvie Zamperini

(1917-01-26)January 26, 1917
Died July 2, 2014(2014-07-02) (aged 97)
Cause of death Pneumonia
Nationality American
Other names Louie Zamperini
Occupation Track and field athlete
Motivational speaker
Years active 1930s–2014
Spouse(s) Cynthia Applewhite (m. 1946-2001; her death)
Children 2 (Luke and Cynthia)

Louis Silvie "Louie" Zamperini (January 26, 1917 – July 2, 2014) was an American World War II prisoner of war survivor, motivational speaker and track and field athlete.


Zamperini was a long distance runner at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany. During World War II, Zamperini was a soldier on a bomber airplane in the Pacific War. After the plane crashed, he and his crew survived 47 days in a lifeboat in shark infested water before being captured by the Japanese army. After the war, he became a motivational speaker.

In 2010, Laura Hillenbrand published Zamperini's biography Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, which became a bestseller. In 2014, actress Angelina Jolie directed the movie Unbroken, based on the biography. The movie was released on December 25, 2014.

In May 2014, he was chosen to be the 2015 Rose Parade grand marshal.

Personal life

Zamperini was born in Olean, New York to Italian immigrant parents. He and his family moved to Torrance, California at a young age. He did not speak English until school and was bullied because of this. He was married to Cynthia Applewhite from 1946 until her death in 2001. They had two children, Luke and Cynthia.

Zamperini died from pneumonia on July 2, 2014 in Los Angeles, California, aged 97.

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