Friday Fun: Six Lazy Degrees

Brian's Take on Tech

Bringing you info about technology, and how it impacts your life for better and worse.   -Brian K, Community Partnerships Supervisor

Image: "a little more than 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon" by matt_leclair

On the off-chance you haven't heard, Google has made the party game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon even easier. If you're unfamiliar with the game, it was created in 1994 by college students at Pennsylvania's Albright College who saw plenty of Kevin Bacon on the television one day while snowed in--both this history and news of Google's game recently aired in this NPR story. The game involves naming an actor or actress and trying to find the fewest number of connections between that person and Kevin Bacon. If they were in a movie with Kevin Bacon, they receive a Bacon number of 1--you can't do better than that. However, if they never performed in a movie with Kevin Bacon, but did act alongside someone who was in a movie with Kevin Bacon, their Bacon number would be 2. And so on.

This isn't a game you buy. This is something you think up and do while slightly bored in a college dorm or on a car trip, but now the game has increased car trip potential. Google's made the game simpler by making it easy to determine someone's Bacon number--just type in Bacon number before a performer's name, and you'll get the number. Give someone on your car trip a smart phone (except the driver, come on now), and you can check your work.

Example: Harpo Marx, my favorite Marx Brother. I know he made relatively few films and wouldn't have acted in anything with Kevin Bacon, so he's a two or more. Marx Brothers films featured many of the same performers, so there wouldn't be too many different connections going out from him. I can't link any actors or actresses between the two, so I'll have to guess. Is Harpo a 3 or 4? Maybe he's a 3--going to Google.

Google tells me Harpo's a 2, but I don't know. Footage of Harpo was in Slapstick Too, which was narrated by Eli Wallach, who appeared in Mystic River with Kevin Bacon. I'm going to have to ask the judges for clarification on that one, since Harpo appeared only in previously recorded film and Wallach was doing the voice over in 1998--Harpo died 34 years before Wallach's narration.

Well, Harpo aside, Google's Bacon Number Easter egg is still fun to play with. What's your favorite actor or actress' number?

Image credit: "a little more than six degrees of Kevin Bacon" by Flickr user matt_leclair, accessed at, used here under Creative Commons license.

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