Where our 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon Friday night game comes from
When we close out every week with a game, we mix it up a lot. Jersey Pyramid, Password, Match Game, What's It From, Hey It Was A Big Hit, Name Five, and TriBond are some of what we do. But a recurring favorite has always been 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon. I thought I should take a moment to explain where it all started since one of the guys who started it lives right here in Jersey and in fact listens to the show!
We've even had him on the show to play his own game. In case you missed it, his name is Brian Turtle. Attending Albright College in 1994, Brian was sitting around one night with fellow students Craig Fass and Mike Ginelli. Snowed in by a heavy storm, they had just watched Footloose then The Air Up There came on and they started wondering just how many movies Kevin Bacon had been in, and that led to curiosity over just how many people Bacon had worked with. Sitting in their living room they started throwing out random actors and the others tried to think how many steps it would take to connect actor to actor and movie to movie back to a Kevin Bacon film. The whole idea quickly developed into the challenge of doing it in 6 steps or fewer based on the theory of 'six degrees of separation' which posits any two people on the planet are really only six or fewer acquaintances apart. The rhyming of separation and Kevin Bacon was a natural fit.
It became sort of a parlor game between the three of them and caught on quickly with a wider circle of friends and beyond. They wrote a letter to Jon Stewart, another Jersey guy of course, explaining the idea of the game and they ended up appearing on not only the Jon Stewart Show but The Howard Stern Show with Bacon himself to explain the game. At first Kevin Bacon disliked the game because he felt deep down the premise was to ridicule him (it wasn't) but came around to embracing it. In fact he eventually starred in a TV commercial playing himself having lost his ID and he scrambles all over town gathering people who are connected to him in a parody of the game.
All this didn't end there. By 1996, Brian Turtle along with some other guys founded Endless Games in Matawan and began cranking out other board games. Among them is Name Five, which we've also used as a Friday Night game with Brian's blessing.
Now here's the quirkiest thing of all, which almost proves the 6 degrees of separation theory. We were working with our producer Joe Votruba for some time before he let us know nonchalantly one afternoon that the guy who invented 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon is his next door neighbor. Yes, it turns out Brian Turtle lives in the house right next to Joe V., and they got to be friends. Joe introduced us since we had been using the 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon game for years and he came in one night and played his own game against callers and gave out prizes from the Endless Games collection. So yes, the famous 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon game has all kinds of Jersey ties!
More from New Jersey 101.5