Kim Peek, the inspiration for 'Rain Man', dies of heart attack
Wednesday 23 December 2009
The autistic savant whose extraordinary genius for mental retention inspired the Oscar-winning film Rain Man has died, his parents confirmed yesterday.
Kim Peek, 58, died of a heart attack in Utah on Saturday morning after suffering from serious upper respiratory problems in recent weeks, his father, Fran Peek, said. He was said to have memorised the contents of 9,000 books, including the plays of Shakespeare and both old and new testaments of the Bible. But he also suffered from deep mental disabilities. At the time of his birth, doctors had recommended putting him an institution, saying his condition meant he would never walk or talk. "We refused," his father recalled.
Kim Peek grew into a shy adult whose life trajectory was set to change unutterably with a chance meeting in the early 1980s at a convention with a Hollywood screenwriter, Barry Morrow. It inspired Morrow to write Rain Man, which starred Dustin Hoffman as a savant and Tom Cruise as his brother. The film won four Oscars, including a Best Actor award for Hoffman.
It also spelled the end of Mr Peek's privacy. Thereafter he toured the world lecturing on the unsual capability of his brain. He was named Kim-puter by some of his friends. "He had a depth and breadth of knowledge and a memory that was just unbelievable," Daniel Christensen, a professor at the University of Utah's Neuropsychiatric Institute, told The Salt Lake Tribune newspaper. "He was unique. I don't know if there will ever be another person quite like Kim."
Scans carried out on Mr Peek's brain revealed that it lacked a corpus callosum, which contains the tissue that would normally connect its two halves. The condition meant he would retain about 98 per cent of everything he read or heard, against 45 per cent for the average person.
By the time of his death at the weekend, Mr Peek had spoken to more than 64 million people about his special condition. And his ability to give the postcode of any location in the US, or a string of significant events for any date in history, left an indelible mark. "It was just unbelievable, all the things that he knew," his father said.
As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”
- 1 'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
- 2 Mother fed her daughter tapeworms to make her skinny for pageant
- 3 Crystal Palace next manager latest: Palace consider Ally McCoist - EXCLUSIVE
- 5 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
West poised to join forces with President Assad in face of Islamic State
Pamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals: 'Mice had holes drilled into their skulls'
James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – as hunt begins for killer
ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Market Administrator (1st line Support, Trade Fl...
£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Dire...
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Data Support Analyst (Linux, Solaris, Windows Se...
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Helpdesk Support Engineer (Windows, MS Office, E...