Real-Life Rain Man Dead at 58

Kim Peek inspired Dustin Hoffman's character in movie
By Sarah Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 22, 2009 10:27 AM CST

(Newser) – The man who inspired Dustin Hoffman's character in the movie Rain Man died Saturday of a heart attack at age 58. Kim Peek's life was thrust into the spotlight after meeting screenwriter Barry Morrow, who used Peek as the inspiration for Dustin Hoffman's Oscar-winning character. After the 1988 film became a hit, Peek spent the next 21 years demonstrating his mental abilities to more than 64 million people around the world, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

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Peek, who was able to retain nearly 98% of what read, heard, and watched (the average person holds on to about 45%), could read and memorize books as a 16-month-old and had committed as many as 9,000 books to memory. Peek, who was also a musical genius and was studied by NASA, was inseparable from his father, Fran, and the two worked to promote equal educational opportunities for the disabled. (Read more Kim Peek stories.)

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