Who invented Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon?

24 Jan

Once upon a time Kevin Bacon was every young girl’s teenage crush.

I mean, who didn’t dream of being whisked away in his VW from Footloose? Or being privately depositioned in A Few Good Men. Or of testing out his rocket and thrusters in Apollo 13. Or of…

Wait, where I was? That’s right, his career.

Anyway, over the years, he has starred in some absolutely fantastic films, from Mystic River and Sleepers to Murder In The First and Frost/Nixon.

Along the way he’s also compiled a heavyweight list of co-stars, from Brad Pitt and Meryl Streep to Colin Firth. And it’s these myriad relationships that helped spark his most intriguing legacy – Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

For those people who’ve been living under a rock, the premise of the game is that Kevin Bacon can be linked to any actor in movies or TV via six or less shared connections, each one adding to their Bacon number.

For example, here’s how he connects to Robert Pattinson.

Robert was in Twilight and New Moon with Edi Gathegi, who was in X-Men: First Class with Kevin Bacon. So R-Patz has a Bacon number of 2. Easy, right?

But just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s not genius and I had to find out who invented the game. And yet again I found myself at an American college with students who seem to have a lot of free time.

In this case it was Albright College, home to students Craig Fass, Christian Gardner, Brian Turtle and Mike Ginelli. They were watching Footloose in a heavy snowstorm, and when it was followed by The Air Up There, they got chatting about how many films he’d been in and people he’d worked with.

As Brian later explained: “”It became one of our stupid party tricks, I guess. People would throw names at us, and we’d connect them to Kevin Bacon.”

From there, and with a little help from people such as Jon Stewart and Howard Stern, the game began to spread, eventually begatting a book and board game. And while the star himself initially wasn’t a fan he has since come around.

Which is a good thing considering how many websites are devoted to the cause, including The Oracle of Bacon where, try as I might, I couldn’t think of someone with a higher Bacon number than 3. Damn those ensemble pieces such as Crazy, Stupid, Love and Animal House.

In the meantime, here’s how some other celebs feel about the game’s popularity.

PS: Here’s a fun fact– Kevin’s middle name is Norwood.

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