Sad news hearing that Louis Zamperini passed away today at the age of 97. Louis was the subject of the bestseller by Laura Hillenbrand Unbroken, and the upcoming movie version.
I've mentioned previously that I'm friends with writer/director Mick Garris who was Louis' son-in-law, and as a result had the chance to meet Lou, though just once and only briefly. But even from that, as I wrote here and here, it was clear he was a warm, very friendly guy. He exuded an outgoing, gracious way.
While I'm sure there'll be a natural reaction that it's a shame he didn't make it to see the film about his life open, the reality is he did live to see and get the great acclaim from the book, and from all the attention of the film, most especially during the most recent Olympics, when NBC and Tom Brokaw aired a very long feature on it and him. The truth is that they had been trying to make a movie based on the book for a very long time -- and about Louis' life even longer. And the fact is that he lived to see it being done, and developed such a great relationship with director Angelina Jolie (who, as fate would have it, lived only blocks away), and got to see much of the completed footage.
Ultimately, Louis' life wasn't about the movie. He lived a long one and a terrific and ultimately joyous one, which is most remarkable of all, given what the book explains.
In writing to Mick today, he had one comment with leaped out. "This is a man who filled every day of his 97 years, and lived a life with no regrets."
That's about as good a way to go out as any.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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