For those who may not be familiar, if you get on to google and type any actor's name followed by "bacon number", google gives you the number of movies that separates that actor from Kevin Bacon. This even seems to go back to a larger media phenomenon of counting the direct and indirect collaborations with Kevin Bacon not related to google alone.

My question is, was there some film or event that started off this whole Bacon number? What triggered it off? Why Kevin Bacon and not somebody else?

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    The question isn't about a website, it's about the Bacon number, which is definitely Movie & TV related. The poster may have first been introduced to the concept via Google search, but the question is about the concept, not Google search. – blm Oct 18 '15 at 17:10
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    Even if it is on-topic, this question shows exactly zero research effort. Searching "bacon number" in Google immediately gives everything you could possibly want to know about it in the form of several websites and the Wikipedia article Walt has used in his answer below. – Catija Oct 18 '15 at 17:59
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    @Walt, which website are you referring to? (Please don't say Google or Wikipedia) – MovieMe Oct 18 '15 at 19:25
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    @Barry The question is specifically talking about Google... so perhaps if you reframe the question to be about the Bacon Number in general and remove the Google reference? Why Google chooses to have a one-box for the Bacon Number has nothing to do with M&TV. – Catija Oct 18 '15 at 19:37
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    @Barry "Why Kevin Bacon?" This wasn't planned. It was a fun little game a few guys came up with that involved a prolific actor. They could've picked some other prolific actor, sure, but they didn't. It just happened to be Bacon. A lot of viral things online are born out of whims. – Walt Oct 18 '15 at 19:51

The Bacon Number was inspired by Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, a popular parlor game that was based on the assumption that any actor could be linked to Kevin Bacon in 6 steps via their roles. Wikipedia details its origin:

In a January 1994 Premiere magazine interview about the film The River Wild, Kevin Bacon commented that he had worked with everybody in Hollywood or someone who's worked with them. On April 7, 1994, a lengthy newsgroup thread headed "Kevin Bacon is the Center of the Universe" appeared. The game was created in early 1994 by three Albright College students, Craig Fass, Brian Turtle, and Mike Ginelli. According to an interview with the three in the spring 1999 issue of the college's magazine, The Albright Reporter, they were watching Footloose [starring Bacon] during a heavy snowstorm. When the film was followed by The Air Up There [another Bacon movie], they began to speculate on how many movies Bacon had been in and the number of people he had worked with. "It became one of our stupid party tricks I guess. People would throw names at us and we'd connect them to Kevin Bacon."

The trio wrote a letter to talk show host Jon Stewart, telling him that "Kevin Bacon was the center of the entertainment universe" and explaining the game. They appeared on The Jon Stewart Show and The Howard Stern Show with Bacon to explain the game. Bacon admitted that he initially disliked the game because he believed it was ridiculing him, but he eventually came to enjoy it.

The whole thing is an homage to 'six degrees of seperation', the theory that every person is connected to any other person by 6 steps or less. The three college students picked Bacon to illustrate the theory in the world of film because, as specified above, they realized he was in a lot of things. Happenstance made it about Bacon and not about some other prolific actor, and it was fun enough to become viral.

  • As in, why Kevin Bacon. Why not someone else, like say Eric Roberts? There must be other actors equally connecting to stars through various movies. Why Kevin Bacon? – MovieMe Oct 18 '15 at 19:22
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    @Barry The article clearly states: "Kevin Bacon commented that he had worked with everybody in Hollywood or someone who's worked with them."... so people decided to see if that was true or not... – Catija Oct 18 '15 at 19:31
  • @Barry Now I see... However, your question was not about the origin of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. It was about the origin of Google's Bacon Number, and I've answered it as I understood it. If you wanted to know why Bacon was specifically chosen for this game, the whole question probably needs to be rephrased. – Walt Oct 18 '15 at 19:44
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    As an interesting side note, the Bacon number wasn't first. There's no evidence I know of that they were inspired by it, but the Erdős number (for mathematicians who had written papers together) had been around since 1969. There's even an Erdős–Bacon number that unifies them. – SevenSidedDie Oct 19 '15 at 5:26
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    Here's a list of 1000 best centres of degrees of separation as calculated using IMDB database. Kevin Bacon is number 411: oracleofbacon.org/center_list.php – slebetman Oct 19 '15 at 8:08

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