A perfect phrase - so succinct it sums up an idea and becomes a popular
culture soundbite, embraced by celebrated pundits, social commentators and
journalists, rendered instantly recognizable by hundreds of thousands of
people... yet most of us miss the point and don't really know what it means!
Not a philosophical idea, it's a statistical truism - four words that
describe the phenomenon of a shrinking world where any random two people can
discover a link through a chain of six acquaintances. It identifies an emotion
that didn't have a name before.
"Six Degrees of Separation," began as a stageplay, based on a true
story of a young black man who scammed an upscale New York couple into
believing he was Sindney Poitier's son and a classmate of their children. It
became a movie, directed by Fred Schepisi, with Stockard Channing in an
In pop culture it's become a popular party game for movie junkies:
Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, the rules of which are fairly
simple: name any other actor in the history of film and connect him or her to
Kevin Bacon through the movies theyve appeared in. For example, silent
film star Mary Pickford is separated from Bacon by only three
degreesPickford was in Screen Snapshots with Clark Gable, who was
in Combat America with Tony Romano who, thirty-five years later, was in
Starting Over...with Kevin Bacon.
According to a recent article
in The New Yorker, Kevin only ranks 668th for connect-edness among
actors. (The top fifteen includes Robert Mitchum, Gene Hackman, Donald
Sutherland, Rod Steiger, Shelley Winters and Burgess Meredith.)