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Google Integrates Kevin Bacon In Its Search Function


OK, remember the game "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon"? Google, which can bring you the weather forecast for any spot on the planet, launched another very useful service this year. The search engine's "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" game will connect any movie star, living or dead, to the veteran Hollywood actor Kevin Bacon.

The game has become so popular, we went in search of its origins this past September. We had so much fun that once again we bring what we found on our expedition.


Let's start with how this original game works. Take any celebrity you like - say, Sean Connery.


SEAN CONNERY: (as James Bond) Bond. James Bond.

GREENE: And we'll try and link him to Kevin Bacon. Well, Sean Connery was in "Marnie" with Tippi Hedren.


TIPPI HEDREN: (as Marnie) I sent you plenty of money. Momma, you don't have to be a babysitter.

GREENE: And Tippi Hedren was in the movie "Jayne Mansfield's Car" with...


KEVIN BACON: (as Carroll Caldwell) It's not going to kill you to talk to your kids. You might be surprised what happens.

GREENE: That's right, Kevin Bacon. So that gives Sean Connery a Bacon number of two. Does that make sense? Well, let's try one more. Say, Tom Cruise...


TOM CRUISE: (as Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee) Colonel Jessup, did you order the Code Red?

GREENE: Ah, yes, that famous line from "A Few Good Men," which also starred Kevin Bacon - they were side-by-side. So that gives Tom Cruise a Bacon number of one. Do you get the idea?

So where did all this start? Well, it began in 1994 at Albright College in Pennsylvania, where three friends were holed up in a room with a TV on.

BRIAN TURTLE: We were snowed in and we were watching TV, as you know, you might do at that age when you're snowed in. And we may have had a cocktail or two. And "Footloose" was on TV, and then the movie "Quicksilver" came on after that, and then a commercial for another Kevin Bacon movie came on in between those two movies. And it was like, whoa, what is this, Kevin Bacon marathon on...

GREENE: He's in everything.

TURTLE: He's in everything. And that was kind of the statement that we made. And then it was sort of like, well, has Kevin Bacon ever worked with Robert De Niro? This was before the movie "Sleepers," which has subsequently put the two of those together in one movie.

But before that we said no, but Robert De Niro was in "The Untouchables" with Kevin Costner, and Kevin Costner was in "JFK" with Kevin Bacon. And that was kind of the light bulb statement right there.

GREENE: That's Brian Turtle who, along with Craig Fass and Mike Ginelli, dreamt this game up, with some cocktails and a few Kevin Bacon movies.

And so, now Google has made the game part of its search engine. And we asked Brian Turtle what it feels like to have a game that you created with your college buddies get incorporated by one of the world's largest Internet companies.

TURTLE: I don't know, flattering or weird. It's interesting because I've Googled, you know, whatever it is - hundreds, hundreds of thousands of different things over the years and I've never really felt the need to say, oh, well, I wonder how the thing that I'm searching links back to Kevin Bacon.

GREENE: And I have to admit, this thing can really get addictive. I spent a lot of a morning using this new Google-Bacon number calculator. I mean the point's supposed to be you get six degrees of separation, right? Well, I couldn't get a connection over the number two. I asked Brian if he could get anywhere near six. And to do that, he and I had to travel to a galaxy far, far away.

TURTLE: You can go Mark Hamill through "Star Wars," with Carrie Fisher.


MARK HAMILL: (as Luke Skywalker) Yes, it's you, Leia.

CARRIE FISHER: (as Princess Leia) Somehow...

TURTLE: And Carrie Fisher was in "The Blues Brothers" with John Belushi, who is in "Animal House" with Kevin Bacon.


JOHN BELUSHI: (as Jake Blues) Forget it - five grand, no problem. We'll have it for you in the morning. Let's go, Elwood.

GREENE: All right, so Luke Skywalker at least gets us to three. If you want to try this for yourself, just type Bacon number and then an actor or actress's name into Google and see what number you get.

Now, before I go, I should mention that Steve Inskeep, I know, met Alec Baldwin in person. He was in "She's Having a Baby" with Kevin Bacon, which means Steve Inskeep has a Bacon number of two.

MONTAGNE: And David, I once ran into Alec Baldwin in the checkout line at the grocery store. Does that count?

GREENE: Yeah. Yeah, you got the Bacon number of two. You were shopping together, absolutely.

MONTAGNE: There you go. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Greene
David Greene is an award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author. He is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, the most listened-to radio news program in the United States, and also of NPR's popular morning news podcast, Up First.