Dec. 23, 2009
Kim Peek, the genius savant who inspired the 1988 Oscar-winning movie Rain Man, has died from a heart attack at the age of 58. Peek, born in 1951 in Salt Lake City, was diagnosed as severely mentally retarded and his parents were advised to place him in an institution and forget about him, and even that he should have a lobotomy. His parents thankfully rejected the advice. Thirty years later, he was classified as a “mega-savant,” a genius in about 15 different subjects, from history and literature and geography to numbers, sports, music and dates. He had memorized 12,000 books, including the entire Bible, but had difficulty with ordinary tasks like getting dressed and combing his hair. Peek could read one page of a book with his left eye and the other with his right, and could read a page in about eight seconds.
Dustin Hoffman, who won an Oscar for his role in the movie, interviewed Mr. Peek in preparation for the film, and helped him to overcome his deeply introverted nature. He and his father traveled extensively after that, showcasing Kim’s ability, and also showing that people with disabilities are still people.
Here is an insight into Kim Peek, when he was age 54.