Kim Peek, inspiration for character of ‘Rain Man’
SALT LAKE CITY - The man who inspired the title character in the Oscar-winning movie “Rain Man’’ has died.
Kim Peek was 58. His father, Fran, said Mr. Peek had a heart attack Saturday and was pronounced dead at a hospital in the Salt Lake City suburb of Murray.
Mr. Peek was a savant with a remarkable memory, and he inspired Barry Morrow when the writer created “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 Mr. Peek’s knack for retaining everything he heard. Morrow wrote the script, and the movie won Oscars for best film and best actor for Dustin Hoffman, whose repetitive rants about being an excellent driver and the “People’s Court’’ touched moviegoers.
Although the character was technically fictional, Fran Peek said his son was every bit as amazing as Hoffman’s portrayal of him. And Mr. Peek’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. “He traveled 5,500 miles . . . and talked to nearly 60 million people - half have been students.’’
In his later years, Mr. 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 such as dressing himself.
NASA scientists had been studying Mr. Peek, hoping that technology used to study the effects of space travel on the brain would help explain his mental capabilities.
Fran Peek says the funeral will be next Tuesday in Taylorsville.