News & EventsAbout UsMembershipResearchOpportunitiesDonateContactSpaceSpacer




Louis Silvie "Louie" Zamperini

Stop by the Museum and see the Zamperini Collection.

See the contact us link for current hours.

January 26, 1917 - July 2, 2014)

Remembering Louis Zamperini

Over the July 4th weekend, the flags in our city flew at half staff to remember a man we call our Home Town Hero - Louis Zamperini.

The rest of the world knew him as that incredible person who survived 47 days adrift on a raft in the Pacific during WWII. Floating for 2000 miles after his plane crashed on a reconnaissance mission, only to be captured by the Japanese military, he was taken ashore to an enemy-occupied island weighing only half of his original body weight. He withstood over two years of unimaginable torture and humiliation at the hands of those who knew they had someone "famous" as a prisoner.

The Torrance Historical Society has a revolving display from the collection of the Louis Zamperini Trust, including...

  • 1934 trophy for setting the Interscholastic World Record for running the mile (4:21.2) - which remained unbroken for 19 years
  • Training shorts and sweat shirt from the 1936 Olympics
  • Wallet - in his back pocket when the B-24 Green Hornet crashed in the Pacific
  • Death certificate, and other "Lucky Louie" treasures

Read the book, see the movie...

The book, Unbroken, Louis' life story as told by Laura Hillenbrand, was finally released in paperback on July 29th, 2014. Unbroken has been on the New York Times best seller list for more than 180 weeks (17 weeks at #1), and counting!

Veteran's Day, a Young Adult Adaptation of Unbroken - An Olympian's Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive (by Laura Hillenbrand / Delacorte Press) will hit the streets. This book is recommended for readers ages 11 - 18.

The film, Unbroken, directed by Angelina Jolie, was released Christmas Day, 2014. Here is the movie trailer.

In December 2018 the movie Unbroken: Path to Redemption (part two of the story of our Hometown City of Torrance Hero, Louis Zamperini) hit the stores in Blu-Ray, DVD & Digital format. Here is a link of Luke Zamperini discussing some of the highlights of the film with Greg Leith of Convene.

Here's a brief summary of the movie:

Haunted by nightmares of his horrific experiences, World War II hero Louis Zamperini meets Cynthia Applewhite, a young woman who becomes his wife. Zamperini's personal demons soon threaten to destroy his marriage -- until he hears the stirring words of the Rev. Billy Graham in 1949. Embracing his newfound Christian faith, Louis starts to turn his life around by learning to forgive his former oppressors and spreading the message of peace and love.

For those of you who don't know, Billy Graham is being portrayed by his grandson in the movie.

Many of us were lucky enough to hear this story told by Louis himself, but . . . to see the nightmares acted out on the big screen, makes it all the more astounding that Louis was able to come out of the war, and life, battle his demons, and . . . forgive.

"I think the hardest thing in life is to forgive. Hate is self-destructive. If you hate somebody, you're not hurting the person you hate, you're hurting yourself. It's a healing, actually, it's a real healing . . . forgiveness."
- Louis Zamperini

Don't Give Up, Don't Give In - Lessons from an Extraordinary Life by Louis Zamperini & David Rensin will go on sale November 18, 2014. In this book, Louis Zamperini shares his wisdom, values, lessons, secrets, and other insights gleaned from his remarkable experiences.

On New Year's Day, in memoriam, our Hometown Hero, Louis Zamperini, will be the Grand Marshall of the Tournament of Roses Parade 2015, themed 'Inspiring Stories.'

Torrance Rose Parade Float The City of Torrance's float, "A Race Well Run," moves along Colorado Blvd. during the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California on January 1, 2015. The float won the Theme Award. (Photo by Leo Jarzomb/Pasadena Star-News).

Stop by the Museum and see the Zamperini Collection. See the contact us link for current hours.

Several Torrance landmarks are named in honor of Louis Zamperini, Torrance hometown Olympian, WWII hero, motivational speaker, and subject of two books and the film Unbroken.

Louis Zamperini at announcement of 2015 Tournament of Roses Grand
"Louis Zamperini at announcement of 2015 Tournament of Roses Grand Marshal" by Floatjon - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

"Zamperini Field" by Trackinfo - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Zamperini Field - California.jpg
"Zamperini Field - California" by United States Geological Survey (USGS) - USGS The National Map, via MSR Maps (formerly TerraServer-USA) Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Zamperini Brothers, Torrance Herald, September 20, 1938

Louis Zamperini 1917-2014 - Triumph of The Torrance Tornado, from Torrance CitiCABLE.

Torrance Bids Farewell to Hometown Hero Louis Zamperini, Daily Breeze, 7/31/2014.

Louis Zamperini Celebration of Life Event, Part 1 and Part 2, from TorranceCitiCABLE.

YouTubes video in three parts (Luke Zamperini & Torrance Rose Float, B-24 Walk Around, and B-17 Walk Around):

Laura Hillenbrand's Eulogy to Louis Zamperini

Slideshow in honor of Louis Zamperini, 1917 - 2014 Video and and original images copyright David Mackintosh, 2014.

Janet Brugger Donaldson, a Torrance High School alum, has started a community Facebook page - Louis Zamperini Our Unbroken Hero - that encourages people to leave posts about Zamperini and how he has affected their lives.

Louis Zamperini Memorial Facebook Page

Zamperini Memorial Highway

ACR (Assembly Concurrent Resolution) 157 Introduced by Assembly Member David Hadley (Coauthors: Assembly Member Members Chavez and Gipson) (Coauthor: Senator Allen) passed Thursday, August 12, 2016.

This measure designates Interstate 405 between the Redondo Beach and Western off ramps in both directions in the County of Los Angeles as the Louis Zamperini Memorial Highway. The measure requires the cost of appropriate signs showing this special designation and, upon receiving donations from nonstate sources covering the cost, to erect those signs. THe Department of Transportation determined that $2500 per sign needs to be raised and that will be two signs.

A link to the Daily Breeze story is here.