Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon: how the Hollywood video game was born

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Kevin Bacon has starred in many iconic films. But his fame came with a price he feared would leave him laughed at.

Over two decades ago, a little game called Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon was born after a trio of college students were bored in their dorms watching Footloose.

The game, centered on the “six degrees of separation” theory that two people are never separated by more than six connections or less, involves connecting anyone in Hollywood to prolific actor Kevin Bacon via their roles in Six movie titles or less.

It quickly gained momentum from a popular phenomenon among moviegoers to a well-known hobby, and is now a mainstay of global pop culture.

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This week, the inspiration for Hollywood theory revealed that he was initially not a fan of the game.

The 61-year-old actor recounted The Company Podcast this week he hated the game, thinking it made him sound like a modest actor and made fun of his career.

“I thought the joke was, ‘Can you believe that such a light weight could be hooked up to Laurence Olivier or Meryl Streep or whatever in six steps or less? “”, He explained.

But Bacon, who rose to fame in the 1980s and had an illustrious career spanning four decades – most recently in a crime drama series. City on a hill – has since adopted the game. He even uses it for the title of his own website – SixDegrees.org, a platform that connects people with causes for fundraising purposes.

So how did this thing start all those years ago?

THE ORIGIN OF KEVIN BACON’S SIX DEGREES

Craig Fass, Mike Ginelli and Brian Turtle of Albright College in Reading, Pa., Were the brains behind Kevin Bacon’s Six Degrees.

Locked inside because of the snowy weather one night in 1994, the three young people in their twenties watched Free of any tie on TV when an advertisement for another film with Bacon, Air up, has come.

The trailer sparked some discussion.

Bacon had a number of movie titles under his belt at this point, meaning he had worked with a myriad of actors, so by their logic he was at the center of the universe.

Inspired, they came up with a game in which someone would name an actor and try to figure out how to connect that person to Bacon in six degrees or less.

For example: Julia Louis-Dreyfus is linked to Kevin Bacon by two degrees.

The equation? Bacon worked with Wayne Knight on JFK and Knight also played Newman on Seinfeld, in which, of course, Louis-Dreyfus played Elaine Benes. Simple.

The game took off around college, becoming something of a party thing.

Armed with the attention he received from their peers, they wrote a letter to talk show host Jon Stewart, telling him “Kevin Bacon was the center of the entertainment universe” and explaining the game. .

They then appeared on The Jon Stewart Show and The Howard Stern Show with Bacon to explain the game to the masses.

And so, a pop culture phenomenon was born.

HOW BACON FIRST HEARED THE GAME

In 2014, appearing at the South by Southwest conference, Bacon explained how confused he was at first when rumors of the game began to swirl in the mid-90s.

“I started hearing about it in a weird way,” the actor said. “People would come up to me, touch me and say, ‘I’m on a step!’ I didn’t really know what was going on.

He admitted in 2012 that he was “horrified” when he first heard of the game – its inventors later revealed he was initially distant when they met in person.

“I was absolutely horrified. I thought it was a giant joke at my expense, ”admitted Bacon.

“I know it’s a cliché, but the actors, behind all the muscles and the shiny white teeth and the low-cut dresses, it really masks a lot of deep and deep insecurity. I thought, “I’m going to be the laughing stock.”

Bacon – as probably many before him – thought gambling would be a fad. But it lasted, and to his absolute credit, he took it in his stride.

SIX DEGREES OF KEVIN BACON IN RECENT HISTORY

In 2007, Bacon launched SixDegrees.org, a nonprofit website that connects people and charitable causes.

The game “Six Degrees” also inspired a website, The Oracle of Bacon, which allows people to type in any actor’s name to see how closely related they are, removing the grunt work for those who do. are not immediately familiar with Bacon’s catalog.

Google also introduced a “bacon number” search in 2012, which allows users to type in a celebrity’s name as well as the “bacon number” to produce the same result.

With Bacon having appeared in over 65 films, many with great actors, an average score of around two is almost guaranteed.

Bacon’s theory has since been used in advertising campaigns, referenced in numerous television series and comedy sketches, and Bacon has even narrated a National Geographic Channel show. The human family tree – a program which explored the genetic interdependence of all humans.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE INVENTORS?

In the middle of their 15 minutes, Craig Fass, Mike Ginelli, and Brian Turtle wrote the book Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, a companion to the board game with an introduction written by the actor.

But after the book came out in 1996, all three moved away from the spotlight as quickly as they entered it. Turtle embarked on a career in marketing for the company that launched the first board game, Ginelli worked as an investment banker, and Fass was a chef.

But while their fame was short-lived, their legacy lives on.


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