Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon just turned 20. The quirky parlor game became a national phenomenon that the actor himself first found very difficult to embrace. At first, the Footloose star thought the game was poking fun at him and was baffled why folks on the street would walk up to him, playfully poke his arm and say, “Now I’m one degree.”
Brian Turtle and two pals from Albright College in Pennsylvania created the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game while sacked out on the couch watching movies one afternoon. The game was inspired by the six degrees of separation theory that no one on the plant is more than six relationships away from any other person. Turtle was watching Footloose with his friends and when the movie went off, another and then yet another, Kevin Bacon movie followed. “It was just one of those lightbulb moments. It was like, ‘This guy is everywhere. He’s the center of the entertainment universe.'” The trio shared the game with friends and it continued to spread until Turtle and Six Degrees co-creators Mike Ginelli and Craig Fass were booked on Jon Stewart’s MTV show to explain the Kevin Bacon activity.
When speaking about the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game during an interview at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival the actor said:
“I was horrified by it. I thought it was a giant joke at my expense. I appreciate it now. But I was very resistant to it at first. I started to kind of hear about it in strange ways. People would come up to me and touch me and say, ‘I’m one degree!’ I didn’t really know what was going on. I don’t think it’s a great testament to my ability as an actor. My movies just happen to be on a lot.”
Bacon, 55, believed the Six Degrees game would be a fad that would fade away in a short matter of time. But, the grassroots parlor game is not only still going strong, it sparked both the Oracle of Bacon website and ultimately a Six Degrees charity the actor created himself. The charity links celebrities with worthy causes.
The Oracle of Bacon website allows searchers to type in the name of any actor or actress to determine how closely they are linked with the A Few Good Men supporting star. The Oracle of Bacon website assigns celebrities a “Bacon Number” to show how closely the star is linked to Kevin Bacon. Due to the vast number of movies the actor has been involved with over the years, and the large ensemble casts associated with many of the films, it is reportedly very unusual for any celebrity to be more than four degrees separated from Bacon.
Google also lets searches type in Bacon Number followed by a celebrity’s name to find the degrees of separation between the two. Kevin has appeared in more than 65 movies, including JFK, Flatliners, Diner, Mystic River, Sleepers, First Class, and X-Men.