Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon (“The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” in French) is a quiz game based on the concept ofthe small world phenomenonand the assumption that each actor can be connected toKevin Baconvia his roles in six movies or less. The name of the game comes from theplaythat illustrated the principle ofsix degrees of separation(six degrees of separation).

In 2007, Bacon created a charity organization called SixDegrees.org .

Principle

Kevin Bacon .

The game brings together a group of players whose goal is to connect any actor to Kevin Bacon by up to six cinema partners.

History

In an interview in February 1994 for the magazine Premiere about the film The River Wild ( The River Wild ), Kevin Bacon notes that he worked with everybody in Hollywood or anyone who worked with them. The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon surfaced at about the same time. On April 7, 1994, a network of forums entitled “Kevin Bacon is the center of the universe” appeared 1 .

The game was premiered in early 1994 by three Albright College students , Craig Fass, Brian Turtle and Mike Ginelli. According to a 1999 interview with the university magazine, they watched Footloose during a snowstorm. The release of the film was immediately followed by that of The Air Up There ( The Air Up There ), and they then began to speculate on the number of films in which Bacon had played and the number of people with whom he had worked . In the interview, Brian Turtle adds, “It had become one of our stupid things that we did in the evening. People were swinging us names, and we liked connecting them to Kevin Bacon. ”

The trio writes a letter to the production of Jon Stewart’s talk show ( The Daily Show ) saying that “Kevin Bacon was the center of the entertainment world” ( Kevin Bacon was the center of the entertainment universe ) and explaining the principle of the game 2 . They are invited to participate in Stewart’s and Howard Stern’s show with Bacon to explain the game. Bacon admitted that he did not initially like the game because he felt he was ridiculed but he finally enjoyed it. The three inventors published a book, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon , whose preface was written by Bacon. A board gamebased on this concept was created by the publisher Endless Games .

The Bacon number

The Bacon number (the “Bacon number”) of an actor or actress is the number characterized by the degree of separation he or she has with Kevin Bacon. It is an application of the number of Erdős to the cinema sector. The larger the number, the more distant the actor is from Bacon. The calculation of Bacon number for player A is based on the algorithm called ”  tracking problems  ” ( shortest path problem ):

  • The Bacon number of Kevin Bacon himself is 0
  • The Bacon number of an actor A having shot directly with Kevin Bacon is 1
  • If the smallest Bacon number of an actor with which A has turned is N, the Bacon number of A is N + 1

For example :

  • Meryl Streep played with Bacon in The Wild River  : his Bacon number is 1;
  • Al Pacino shot with Robert De Niro in Heat  ;
    • De Niro shot with Bacon in Sleepers  : Pacino’s Bacon number is 2;
  • etc.

According to The Oracle of Bacon , a one-click database linking an actor to Kevin Bacon, the biggest Bacon number is 10 3 .

Notes and references

  1. ↑ ( in ) Alexander Ruthven, ”  Kevin Bacon is the Center of the Universe  ”  [ archive ] , rec.arts.movies , Google groups, (accessed April 24, 2011 )
  2. ↑ Fass, Ginelli and Turtle 1997
  3. ↑ ( in ) ”  Who is the Center of the Hollywood Universe?  ”  [ Archive ] on The Oracle of Bacon , (accessed April 26, 2012 )

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