Actor Beats Kevin Bacon at His Own Game – The Hollywood Reporter

Even if you don’t remember his name, you’ve seen his face. More importantly, you’ve heard his voice. With his trademark baritone, Keith David is the ultimate “that guy,” the quintessential Blackfamous character actor, as effective in dramas (Greenleaf) as he is in screwball comediesThere’s Something About Mary) and animationThe Princess and the Frog). With more than 300 credits to his name, ranging from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood to Barbershopfrom The Thing to SpongeBob SquarePantsthe 65-year-old, Juilliard-trained performer is even better suited to the Kevin Bacon game than Kevin Bacon (103 credits as of press time).

In the mid-1990s, three Albright College students were watching Footloose when they saw an ad for another Bacon vehicle, The Air Up There. The coincidence inspired them to invent what would become the cinephile’s ultimate parlor game: The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. The object of the game was simple: to connect any given actor or actress to Kevin Bacon in as few steps as possible: Winona Ryder was in The House of the Spirits with Meryl Streep, who was in The River Wild with Kevin Bacon. Based on the six degrees of separation theory that there are no more than six social connections separating any two individuals on the planet, the simple and addictive game landed its inventors on Jon Stewart’s and Howard Stern’s talk shows and became a meme before memes were a thing . It made plain the interconnectedness not just of Hollywood but of human society.

If the game’s creators really wanted to hammer at that point, though, they might well have picked up Keith David.

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This story first appeared in the Feb. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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