Inset Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore
Rather, it was a 1990s parlor game called Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon that sprang from the assumption that everyone in show business can be linked to the actor within six steps at most. This makes Bacon the center of the Hollywood universe!
Kevin Bacon is one of the few stars ever to appear in a smash teen movie and later parlay that celebrity into a solid career doing consistently good work. What’s his secret?
In interviews, Bacon says it’s because he was always more interested in character work than he was in playing the leading man. He is committed to being a great actor, but he has never believed in his own celebrity.
Is that the reason why Kevin Bacon’s net worth is estimated at $46 million?
Table of Contents
Kevin Bacon’s Rise to Fame
Kevin Bacon was born on July 8, 1958, in Philadelphia. At the age of 17, he left for New York City to pursue a theater career.
He landed a few off-Broadway parts in plays like “Flux,” “Getting Out,” and “Forty Deuce.”
In 1982, he made his Broadway debut playing opposite then-unknowns Sean Penn and Val Kilmer in “Slab Boys.”
He was also cast briefly in two soap operas, “Search for Tomorrow” in 1979 and “The Guiding Light” between 1980 and 1981. Mostly, however, he supported himself waiting tables.
Bacon did land a small role as Omega House pledge Chip Diller in the mega-hit “Animal House” in 1978.
He followed up that appearance by playing Camp Crystal Lake counselor Jack Burrell, whose throat is slit by Jason Voorhees’ arrow in the slasher movie “Friday the 13th.”
Bacon’s Breakout Movie
Bacon’s breakout moment, though, came when he played budding alcoholic Timothy Fenwick Jr. in director Barry Levinson’s first movie, “Diner,” in 1982. The movie was a critical and box-office hit, and for the first time, Kevin Bacon’s name was generating buzz in Hollywood circles.
“Footloose,” which was released in 1984, grossed more than $80 million, which is the equivalent of nearly $200 million today.
Soon after the movie’s release, People Magazine made Bacon its cover boy. “Footloose” gave Kevin Bacon the chance to prove bankability: not only was he a talented character actor, but he could also carry a film.
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Kevin Bacon Movies
Bacon has starred in many other critical and box-office hits over the course of his nearly 40-year career.
He won hearts with his portrayal of the goofy hero Val McKee, who saves his hometown from “Graboids” in the comedy hit “Tremors” (1990).
In 1996, Bacon portrayed petty criminal Henri Young, who is put on trial for homicide, in the film “Murder in the First.”
He starred as astronaut Jack Swigert in Ron Howard’s 1995 blockbuster “Apollo 13.”
In 1998, Bacon took on the role of a mentally challenged man named Ricky Schroth in Timothy Hutton’s directorial debut “Digging to China.”
In 2003, he filled the screen as Detective Sean Devine in Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-winning film “Mystic River.”
Kevin Bacon has made his share of controversial movies too.
In 2004, he played a pedophile in the provocative indie hit “The Woodsman.”
In 2005, he starred as a member of an ill-fated ménage a trois in the erotic thriller “Where the Truth Lies” with Colin Firth and Rachel Blanchard; the film received an NC-17 rating from the Motion Picture Association of America.
He also portrayed the supervillain Sebastian Shaw in “X-Men: First Class.”
His solid film career has provided the foundation of Kevin Bacon’s net worth estimated at $46-million.
Kevin Bacon TV Star
He created the show “The Following,” which aired on Fox TV for three seasons, and he played its main character, brooding FBI agent Ryan Hardy.
Bacon then went on to star in all eight episodes of the Amazon video drama “I Love Dick.”
He also was cast as the lead in the HBO film “Taking Chance,” which followed the experiences of Marine Colonel Michael Strobl as he escorted the body of a fallen soldier who had died in the Iraq War back to the soldier’s hometown.
In 2018, Kevin Bacon reprised one of his favorite roles as goofy Val McKee in a made-for-TV movie based on his screen hit “Tremors.”
Kevin’s 2019 Showtime television drama “City on a Hill,” in which he plays corrupt FBI veteran Jackie Rohr, is going into its second season.
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Kevin Bacon’s Six Degrees
Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon is one of the earliest internet memes. It’s a wordplay on a psychological theory known as Six Degrees of Separation that posits everyone on the planet is, at most, six social connections away from each other.
In 1990, the phrase “Six Degrees of Separation” became the title of a popular play written by the award-winning playwright John Guare. In 1993, the play was made into a movie, and then the U.S. became familiar with the phrase.
In 1994, three students named Craig Fass, Brian Turtle, and Mike Ginelli, who were attending Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania, were watching “Footloose” on TV one night. They began talking about Kevin Bacon’s career. By the end of the evening, they’d become convinced that Kevin Bacon was the vector that connected everyone to everyone else in show biz. They called their theory Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.
The students wrote a letter explaining their theory to comedian Jon Stewart, who was then hosting his own eponymous TV show. Several weeks later, Fass, Turtle, and Ginelli were invited to appear on Jon Stewart’s show along with Kevin Bacon.
The three students eventually went on to write a book titled “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” which even inspired a board game.
Bacon numbers are an essential part of the Bacon meme. A Bacon number is actually the application of a sophisticated mathematical formula called the “shortest path” algorithm applied to the firmament of actors, directors, producers, and others working in Hollywood.
Kevin Bacon himself has a Bacon number of zero. Actors like Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, who worked with Bacon in “A Few Good Men,” have a Bacon number of 1.
If you type “Bacon number” and an actor’s name into a Google search box, Google will actually calculate that actor’s Bacon number.
At first, Kevin Bacon declared himself mystified by the popularity of the Bacon meme. Eventually, though, he came to enjoy it.
In 2002, he made an ad for Visa debit cards that was based on the Six Degrees concept.
In 2007, Bacon created a charity called SixDegrees.com that helps small philanthropies recruit celebrity promoters.
Kevin Bacon Awards
The Guardian once dubbed Kevin Bacon one of the best actors never to have been nominated for an Oscar.
He’s won a number of other professional awards, though, and he’s very highly thought of by his show business colleagues.
In 2003, he was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In 1982, Bacon won an Obie Award, which is off-Broadway theater’s most prestigious recognition, for his role in “Forty Deuce.”
In 1996, he won the Critics’ Choice Best Actor Award presented by the American-Canadian Broadcast Film Critics Association for his part in “Murder in the First.”
Bacon has been nominated for Screen Actors Guild Awards numerous times and has won twice.
One win was Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture in 1996 for “Apollo 13,” and the other was Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries in 2010 for “Taking Chance.”
He won a Golden Globe award for Best Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries for “Taking Chance” as well.
Kevin Bacon has won a number of smaller film festival awards, too, including Best Actor at the Giffoni Film Festival for his role in “Digging to China” and a Special Mention at the Ghent Film Festival for his turn in “The Woodsman.” The Giffoni Festival is one of the world’s best-known children’s film festivals.
Kevin Bacon’s Personal Life
Kevin Bacon is married to actress Kyra Sedgwick. The two first met when Bacon was 19 and Sedgwick was 12.
Sedgwick had just seen a matinee performance of a play Bacon was in. She was sitting in a delicatessen with her brother when Bacon walked through the door. “Go on,” said Sedgwick’s brother. “Tell him you like him.” So, the shy little girl did.
Sparks didn’t fly until 10 years later when the two met again on the set of the PBS production of “Lemon Sky,” and at first, Sedgwick wasn’t overly impressed. “I vividly remember looking at his butt when he walked away after we first met and thinking, ‘Well, I guess some girls like that,’” she revealed in a Redbook interview some years later.
Sedgwick must have overcome her initial reluctance because the two became inseparable shortly afterward. They married on September 4, 1988.
In a 2011 appearance on the PBS show “Finding Your Roots,” the couple discovered that they are actually ninth cousins, once removed.
Bacon and Sedgwick have collaborated on a number of projects, including “Murder in the First,” “The Woodsman,” and the 2016 Lifetime movie “Story of a Girl,” which Sedgwick directed and Bacon starred in.
Their two most important collaborations, though, are their son Travis, 29, and their daughter Sosie, 25.
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