Monday, January 4, 2010

Rain Man

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The man who inspired the title character in the Oscar-winning movie "Rain Man" has died.

Kim Peek was a savant with a remarkable memory and inspired writer Barry Morrow when he wrote "Rain Man ," the 1988 movie that won four Academy Awards.

Fran Peek said his son met Morrow at a convention in the early 1980s and the writer was taken with Peek's knack for retaining everything he heard. Morrow wrote the script, and the movie went on to win Oscars for best film and best actor for Dustin Hoffman, whose repetitive rants about being an excellent driver and the "People's Court" about to start were a hit with moviegoers.

Although the character was technically fictional, Fran Peek said his son was every bit as amazing as Hoffman's portrayal of him. And Kim's true character showed when he toured the world, helping dispel misconceptions about mental disabilities.

"It was just unbelievable, all the things that he knew," Fran Peek said Monday. "He traveled 5,500 miles short of 3 million air miles and talked to nearly 60 million people — half have been students."

In his later years, Peek was classified as a "mega-savant" who was a genius in about 15 different subjects, from history and literature and geography to numbers, sports, music and dates. But his motor skills were limited; he couldn't perform some simple tasks like dressing himself.
Other interesting facts...
-He could read with both eyes independently. In a study he once ready in 53 seconds what would take a normal person 23 minutes to read. He retained 98% of what he read, compared with 43% for an average person, and could tell you the page number the information could be found on.
-He was a huge fan of classical music but could not attend many concerts. He knew the music so well and had the gift of perfect pitch that he could tell if one instrument in the orchestra was off. He would stand up and tell them the were playing it wrong.
-When he spoke with students they would line up to try and stump Kim with crazy questions. Like who was the winning pitcher in game 6 of the 1926 world series? and he would answer it...(Grover Alexander of the Cardinals)
-If you gave him the name of any city (literally any city)...he could tell you the zip code.
-If you gave him a phone book, let him read it (probably take a half hour or so) and gave him your name... he could tell you your address, phone number, city, etc...
-And to think the doctor who first diagnosed Kim as a child suggested his parents put him in an institution and forget about him...
-Brian L.


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