Original ‘Rain Man’ Kim Peek has died
December 22, 2009
(ChattahBox) — Kim Peek, the autistic savant who inspired the title character in the Oscar-winning movie Rain Man, has died of a massive heart attack at his suburban Salt Lake City home at the age of 58. Peek, born in 1951, was diagnosed as severely mentally retarded and his parents were advised to place him in an institution and forget about him. By the time he was 30, Peek was classified as a “mega-savant,” a genius in about 15 different subjects. According to the Times of London, he would read eight books a day, taking just ten seconds to read a page, and could read two pages simultaneously, his left eye reading the left page and his right eye reading the right page. His astonishing ability to retain knowledge inspired the writer Barry Morrow to write Rain Man, the 1988 movie starring Dustin Hoffman that won four Academy Awards. But throughout his life he still needed 24-hour care. Despite his great mental agility, his motor skills remained limited; he could not perform simple tasks such as dressing himself or combing his hair. NASA began to study Kim Peek’s memory in 2004, due to the fact that his abilities were improving with age. Scans were made of his brain to help understand the changes that occurred in his brain as he got older.