Six Degrees of Everyone

We're all connected by six degrees of separation, according to Stanley Milgram, an American sociologist who tested the theory in 1967. The concept can be traced back to "Chains", a short story by the Hungarian writer Frigyes Karinthy, and the phrase was taken from Milgram's experiment and used as the title of a play by John Guare. Guare's play would be made into a movie starring Will Smith in 1993. And in 1994, college students Craig Fass, Brian Turtle and Mike Ginelli invented the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, in which a person must link Kevin Bacon to another actor through five or fewer names.

In yesterday's post, I mentioned some prominent voice actors from my childhood, all of whom I was familiar with primarily from The Transformers or G.I. Joe, though if you checked their IMDB listings you would see they'd done far more than that, and most were still working today. Chris Latta, who passed away in 1994, was the one exception. Best known to me as Starscream and Cobra Commander, I was surprised in my research to read that he and not Hank Azaria provided the original voice for the bartender Moe Syzslak on The Simpsons.

It's always cool to me in hindsight to learn something new about an actor's career. "Before They Were Stars-type shows fascinate me no end. For various reasons growing up there are a lot of movies I hadn't seen. Maybe it was because I was too young at the time, or never had cable, or didn't have an interest then. But I've been making good use of Netflix to get caught up, and learning new things all the time, constantly spotting someone who's more famous now in something years before I knew who they were. Just to give one of many examples, I only saw Platoon for the first time a few weeks ago, and was surprised to see Scrubs' John C. McGinley among the ensemble. I could give more examples, but I'd end up linking to just about every page on IMDB.

Movies, music, video games, television shows and now the internet serve to link all of us, to strengthen the Six Degrees theory and make this world a bit smaller. As you read this, maybe you're someone I know but if not, there's a good chance that I know someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows you.

Incidentally, I found a site that computes connections between Kevin Bacon and other actors. Chris Latta? He's connected by two degrees, having starred in Roadhouse with Keith "Goliath" David, who starred in Novocaine with Bacon.


Blogger TheWriteJerry said...

Jerry Novick -> Joey Slotnick -> Kevin Bacon

I went to high school with Joey (he was a couple of years behind me, but we had some classes together). Joey went on to become a semi-famous actor. His roles have included being a main character on Boston Public and Nip/Tuck. Joey was a co-star of Kevin Bacon's in The Hollow Man.

Of course, I haven't seen Joey in person in 20 years, and if we passed each other on the street, while I would of course recognize him, he would probably not recognize me.

And Kevin Bacon doesn't know me at all.

10/18/2004 9:43 AM  

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