The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon
This game was developed by three college friends who went to Albright College (Reading, PA). They first appeared on the Jon Stewart show on MTV (his old show--not the daily show). It is based on the theory that Kevin Bacon is the center of the entertainment universe, and that any actor or actress can be linked back to him, typically within six degrees (six connections) (variations on this game are based on the assumption that almost anyone in the world can be linked to anyone else in the world by six or seven degrees). How can you tell?
Simple. By looking at movies that actors and actresses have in common, you can link them to Kevin Bacon. For example, Jack Nicholson was in "A Few Good Men" with Kevin Bacon. Michelle Pfeiffer was in "Wolf" (or "The Witches of Eastwick") with Jack Nicholson, who was in "A Few Good Men" with Kevin Bacon. And so on. The number of intervening movies is that actor or actresses' Bacon Number or degree number. Thus, in this example, Nicholson would have a Bacon Number of 1 and Michelle Pfeiffer a Bacon Number of 2.
Here is another example:
Bela Lugosi, has a Bacon number of 3:
1. Bela Lugosi was in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) with Vincent Price
2. Vincent Price was in The Raven (1963) with Jack Nicholson
3. Jack Nicholson was in A Few Good Men (1992) with Kevin Bacon
But the game also can be extended to non-entertainment stars. For example, Roger Hiemstra has a Bacon number of 3:
1. Roger Hiemstra met Sal Mineo at a party in Beverly Hills in 1958
2. Sal Mineo was in Giant (1956) with Barbara Barrie
3. Barbara Barrie was in End of the Line (1987) with Kevin Bacon
Here is another; Roger Hiemstra has a Laurence Fishburne number of 4:
1. Roger Hiemstra worked with Alice Mae Robinson as co-playground directors for the City of Pasadena, California, Recreation Department in the summer of 1958
2. Alice Mae Robinson is the sister of baseball legend Jackie Robinson
3. Jackie Robinson was in The Jackie Robinson Story (1950) with Ruby Dee
4. Ruby Dee was in Just Cause (1995) with Laurence Fishburne
Here is another; Roger Hiemstra has a Rev. Samuel Joseph May (famous abolitionist and the minister for whom the May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society was named) number of 4:
1. Roger Hiemstra's daughter is Nancy Hiemstra.
2. Nancy is married to Sean Bowditch.
3. Sean's great-great-great-great uncle is William Ingersoll Bowditch who was a leading abolitionist and active with underground railroad activities (there is a William Bowditch house in Brookline, Massachusetts, preserved because of its extensive use as an underground railroad stop)
4. Sam May and William Bowditch were friends and colleagues in the underground railroad movement.
Finally, each of you who knows Roger Hiemstra has a former President Bill Clinton number of 4 (or less if you know him more directly or if you know Janet Hiemstra):
1. Each of you knows Roger Hiemstra
2. Roger Hiemstra is married to Janet Hiemstra
3. Janet Hiemstra worked for two years with Marie Bruno on a national conference that was held in Little Rock, Arkansas
4. Marie Bruno is a first cousin to Bill Clinton
To make this an enjoyable experience, work in a group and complete such tasks as the following:
1. Figure out the degree number one member of your group has to a professional athlete.
2. Figure out the degree number each member of your group has to some famous entertainment figure (a different entertainment figure for each person).
3. Figure out the degree number any member of your group has to some famous educator.
4. Figure out the degree number any member of your group has to a famous international figure.
5. Figure out the degree number any member of your group has to Queen Elizabeth.
6. Figure out the degree number any member of your group has to some famous historical (not living) person (of your choosing).
7. Pick out some obscure person living in some other country (perhaps a villager, peasant, or average worker) to see if we can, indeed, be connected to almost anyone by six or seven degrees.
September 1, 2008
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