Kim Peek, the genius who inspired Dustin Hoffman's character in Rain Man, has died from a heart attack at the age of 58. Kim Peek was classed as a mega-savant and had memorized 12,000 books, including the entire Bible, but had difficulty with ordinary tasks like getting dressed and combing his hair. His astonishing abilities included being able to read one page of a book with his left eye and the other with his right. It took him just eight seconds to read and remember a page.
He could also ask a stranger their date of birth, then tell them what day of the week they were born on, and what was on the front of major newspapers. Mr Peek was classed as a genius in 15 different subjects including history, literature, geography and music yet still scored below average in IQ tests. Script writer Barry Morrow was inspired to write Rain Man after meeting him in the early 1980s. Dustin Hoffman went on to win an Oscar for his portrayal of a savant called Raymond Babbitt who, like Mr Peek, reeled off endless sports minutiae. During his preparation for the role Hoffman met Mr Peek, who was then 37, and helped him to overcome his deeply introverted nature.
Mr Peek's father Fran said: "Dustin Hoffman said to me, you have to promise me one thing about this guy, share him with the world." With his confidence increasing Mr Peek later took to the stage, amazing audiences with his recall and enjoying being known as the real Rain Man. In 2004 Nasa scientists began studying him using technology designed to assess the effects of space travel on the brain. Mr Peek, who was a Mormon, died in Salt Lake City, Utah. In recent years he also showed an ability to develop and change, even overcoming his literal nature by learning to tell jokes.