Real “Rain Man” Comes to Bay Area

Kim Peek inspired Hoffman's role

Kim Peek, the man who inspired Dustin Hoffman's character in the  movie "Rain Man", will be speaking at Las Positas College in Livermore Thursday evening.

Peek, 57, has 32 so-called savant abilities, including the ability to read two pages of a book simultaneously, one page with each eye, said Ernie Jones, a psychology professor at Las Positas College.

According to Jones, Peek is the only person in the world known to have that ability.

Peek has also memorized all the zip codes and area codes in the  United States and can beat the United States Postal Service computer in  matching area codes to cities, Jones said.

Brain scans have shown that Peek does not have a corpus callosum, the fibers that connect the left side of the brain to the right side. According to Jones, it appears that Peek has two independently functioning brains in his head.

Before the movie "Rain Man" came out in 1988, Peek was socially isolated, a classic behavior associated with autism. He wouldn't look people in the eye and if guests came to his house, he would leave the room, Jones said.

Since the movie, though, a lot of people have wanted to meet Peek and he has developed a sense of humor and become somewhat of "a social butterfly," Jones said.

"He's really shown us that people with disabilities like his can go much farther than anyone ever thought they could," Jones said.

"He's also just a really sweet guy. Once you meet him, you don't forget him," Jones said.

This will be Peek's fourth visit to Las Positas College.

The college's psychology department and the Psi Beta National Honor Society in Psychology is hosting the event, which begins at 7 p.m.

The lecture is open to the public, but seating is limited.  Admission is $5 for students, seniors and staff and $7 for General admission.

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