Six degrees of General George S. Patton

Do you know what a “Bacon number” is? It’s the number of degrees of separation between any Hollywood personality and Kevin Bacon, based on the films in which each has appeared.

Many years ago a game originated based on the concept of six degrees of separation, which contends than any two people, on average, are separated by no more than six acquaintance links. The Bacon number of an actor is the number of degrees of separation he or she has from Bacon.

Enter the Google boys! I love their quirky social contributions.

Type the phrase “bacon number” –hold the quotes–into the search bar, then type in any actor’s name, hit enter and the clever Google minds will fill in the calculation.

We just saw the movie Lincoln, so I entered Daniel Day-Lewis into the equation. Daniel Day-Lewis and David Strathairn both appeared in Lincoln. David Strathairn and Kevin Bacon appeared in The River Wild. So Daniel Day-Lewis’s Bacon number is 2.

Here’s one more. My current favorite television show is Downton Abbey. So what is Maggie Smith’s Bacon number? Maggie Smith and Sandra Bullock appeared in Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Sandra Bullock and Kevin Bacon appeared in Loverboy. Consequently, Maggie Smith’s Bacon number is also 2.

One of my relatives had a minor role in the movie, Footloose, so I claim a personal Kevin Bacon degree of separation.

What does this have to do with General George S. Patton? Not much, except it’s my way of saying that if you live in my little quadrant of Southern California you can’t go anywhere without bumping into a name or place or person directly connected  to General Patton’s family. My guess is that very few Southern Californian’s really know the full extent to which the family names populate the history and founding of the region.

For many years I’ve walked past the Patton family plot in the San Gabriel Cemetery. My great-grandparents are buried in this cemetery. Does this then also connect me to General George Patton? (Once you start this game, it’s hard to stop).

In the next few posts I will break down just a few of the stories of how George Patton’s family leaves an indelible imprint on Southern California. As I’ve been reading a personal history of the family authored by General Patton’s grandson, Robert H. Patton, I’ve discovered that just like the “Bacon game” innumerable local landmarks and historical references connect through this illustrious family.

Perhaps it’s just me, but I sadly admit that before I started this little study much of what I knew about General Patton was limited to what I remembered of the 1970 movie, Patton, starring actor George C. Scott.

Which of course made me go back to the Google calculator.

George C. Scott and Sean Penn appeared in the movie Taps. Sean Penn and Kevin Bacon appeared in Mystic River. So…

You’ve got the idea by now.

I’ll be back with a little Patton history, so I hope you’ll travel with me.

52 thoughts on “Six degrees of General George S. Patton

  1. I really enjoyed the movie Six Degrees of Separation. It starred two of my favourite actors, Stockard Channing and Donald Sutherland.

    As for Kevin Bacon, I recently watched one of his movies on the TV which showed a little more of him than I was expecting to see. Can’t remember the name of the movie, but Kevin Bacon stepping out of the shower appears to be imprinted in my cerebral cortex.

    I look forward to learning about The General.

    Bye for now

    • I have never seen the movie, Tricia, and I love Stockard Channing, too. I just make a point of seeing it. You made me laugh at the comment about Kevin Bacon stepping out of the shower. Hmmm. I wonder what movie that was? 🙂 I hope I can find a good way to keep the larger-than-life General interesting to others. I may need to share in smaller bites! oxo

    • I’m so glad, Rob. The Pattons were certainly an illustrious family and I only recently began to understand how deeply rooted they were in my neighborhood. Not just the whole of Southern California, but quite literally in my town. I’ll have fun sharing the stories. 🙂

  2. I once figured out that I’m connected to Bacon via my picture with Zia and Pope John Paul II. As I recall, Liz Taylor and Michael Jackson figured into the “degrees” somehow, though the Google app takes a different route. Whatever! 🙂
    I’d no idea that the Patton family figured so prominently is S. California’s history as they do/did. It’s an interesting aspect to this general whom I only knew, like you, from the movie. But, now you’ve gone and done it, Debra. You have us thirsting for more Patton. 🙂

    • I love that you figured out you had a Bacon number, John! I never even thought to try. It probably is a much smaller world in family connectivity than we even want to know! 🙂 As for Patton, it’s true I’ve seen the family plot for as long as I can remember, but I’ve only recently started trying to piece together the fragments of a lot of stories I’ve heard that I wanted to better understand. As I started reading I became more interested in his grandparents than the General. So I’m now trying to break it down a bit so not to overwhelm a post with too much that is probably only interesting if you’re a local! You might not be as interested in why certain streets have a particular name? I’ll be working on that! Ha!

  3. You can do it with anyone famous. My bacon number for the Queen is three (or is it two? I’m never quite sure where it starts):

    Tory Boy is my son – he has met our Prime Minister, David Cameron – the PM meets the Queen every week.

    Incidentally, Kevin Bacon is in a series of adverts in the UK at the moment. They are clever, based on his 6DoS (which he used to hate, thinking it was a joke against him) and popular British shows and celebrities. I’m sure he has no idea half the time what he’s saying, but he does it brilliantly. A great actor.

    • That’s so interesting to me that Kevin Bacon is currently in adverts, Tilly! I don’t think he’s doing anything similar right now over here, but I’ve always really liked him and think he has a great sense of humor around the 6DoS bit! It’s pretty funny. Now I’m quite envious of your Bacon number for the Queen! I must see what I can come up with. My grandmother had ties to GB, so maybe somehow I can find my way back to be connected. 🙂

    • It is so funny isn’t it, Charlie? I spent an hour playing with the Google equation, and a few times just laughed out loud at how it worked. I don’t think I ever saw the movie, but maybe I should check it out. 🙂

  4. Debra, this is going to be good! I don’t know much about the great general, but I’m quite anxious to learn from you. And now I have to go figure how close I am to Kevin — I stood inches away from Kris Kristoferson in 1982. 😀

    • I never put my own name in the equation, and I think I’ll do the same. LOL! I’ll tell you what happens around here with celebrity sightings. I never seem to notice! I’ve been in elevators many times with a celebrity and after they get off everyone will buzz about it and I never even noticed. I attend a church with several well-known personalities, and they never look quite the same without all their makeup and hair. 🙂 I am so glad you’ll enjoy learning more about Patton and his family, too, Natalie! It’s been so interesting for me to learn more after years of hearing bits and pieces. Now I’m beginning to see how all the snippets of story fit together.

    • I think you’re right, Nancy. Too many movies, and apparently not opening casting to enough newbies! I spent entirely too long trying to come up with someone who would be more than two or three separations, and I couldn’t. I even put in names like “Troy Donohue” and he still came up two. I’m not sure why this amuses me as it does, but sometimes simple diversions, I guess? LOL!

  5. What fun, Debra. 🙂 I can claim the most tenuous of links with General Patton, in that our French house is in Southern Normandy and only 14 miles away in Avranches there is a big square named after him, as it was his army that liberated the town in July 1944. I look forward to your posts on the family with great interest.

    • I like your General Patton connection, Perpetua, and if we continue to play along, since he lived and grew up quite literally in my neighborhood, I think you and I must be connected through him, don’t you think? LOL!

  6. Love this post Debra! I’ve played the Bacon game so many times. It’s hilarious how addictive it is. I had no idea there was a Google way to play. I’m looking forward to the Patton posts. I don’t know much about him. 🙂

  7. I recall you working Patton into previous posts … but what surprised me here is that Mrs. Patton lived another 30 years! Then again, he died too young.

    • I somehow missed your comment the other day, Frank. Sorry! I think you were probably looking at the marker for Anne Patton, and is the General’s sister. His wife is buried with him in Luxembourg (I think). I always thought the marker was for his wife, too, Frank, and only started to piece the family together when I started reading the book I referenced. 🙂

  8. I don’t want it link to kevin bacon. I like to play Six Degree of Separations and that’s it. 😀
    Ah well … lemme see …
    Amy Adams – Meryl Streep (Doubt)
    Meryl Streep – Kevin Bacon (The River Wild)
    See, too easy to connect anybody with Kevin Bacon.

  9. I am also a two. I once worked on a series of short films, and the camera men were next going to make some films…….of Kevin Bacon.

    I’m looking forward to reading your Patton stories and comparing them to the ones I’ve heard from one of his other grandsons.

    • You’ve probably got the good stories from the grandson who did NOT write the book! I don’t think I’ll be sharing any of the inside scoop, just how the family fits into the Southern California story. It would be really fun to have a conversation with your friend. I am sure the General was quite a character! 🙂 Fun Kevin Bacon connection…for one lone man, he sure does get around, doesn’t he?

  10. Hmm? Jennifer had a part as an extra in U.S. Marshall, starring Tommy Lee Jones, who I am sure has been in a movie with Kevin Bacon. I must check out her number. How interesting, Debra. I’ll need to play with this, but, later, when I have a few hours to kill, as I’m sure that is what will happen. tee hee

    I’ll look forward to your future posts on Patton.

    Sorry for not responding until now. Life is a bit out of kilter at the moment, but, eventually I get to everyone. Take care. 1°F here right now. Brrrrr!

    • I hope all is well, Penny, and that “off-kilter” is temporary! I can’t seem to keep up with everything no matter what! I think we do quite well keeping up with the blogging challenge, don’t you? Family life alone is a full-time job! 🙂 I think that if Jennifer has a “Bacon number” and I do, too, then you and I are practically related. LOL!

      Stay warm…1° sounds unbelievable! I hope you can just stay indoors by a fire…probably not likely, huh? oxo

    • Kind of a funny “name” in the credits, but he was “The Fat Cowboy” in the original Footloose. He is my mom’s half-brother, and during the 80s and 90s he had many small movie and television credits. Now he’s more of a “behind the scenes” guy! 🙂 I don’t remember all there is about the part, but I think he either punches someone or is in a fight…in a bar scene. I haven’t seen the movie in years, but I would probably enjoy it again!

  11. Pingback: Following the circuitous trail of the illustrious Patton’s | breathelighter

  12. Dear Debra, I so look forward to learning about General Patton and Southern California from your posts. You research so thoroughly and then present your research in such an enticing and interesting way that you always capture my attention.

    That Irish cross monument is so lovely. Peace.

    • Thank you for your interest, Dee. I don’t want to overwhelm with too much Southern California history, but as you can tell, I’m caught up in it. Keeping up with blog posts is good incentive for me to get out and see some of the sites for myself. There are so many interesting places very close to my home because I live in close proximity to Los Angeles, so it’s a fun exercise to get out and take photos, too. I wish I had just a little bit more time to explore, but then we all feel that way, I’m sure! 🙂

  13. I have lived in southern CA for over a decade and I had no idea the Patton family were my neighbors. I’ve so enjoyed your introduction Debra. I hope you’re going to organize a tour of the cemetery?

    I can also claim a personal Kevin Bacon degree of separation. In 1978 Mr F worked on a movie called “The Changeling” with George C. Scott …

  14. Not living is the US my only knowledge of Patton was through the movie as well. George C. Scott was brilliant.Based on his performance Patton must have been quite a leader. I wonder what he was like as a family member? I also thoroughly enjoyed your Bacon Number explanation. I had not heard that you could have fun doing this. It got me thinking about the large cast movies like Crash and New Year’s Eve where the story lines are so intertwined amongst a lot of characters. These types of movies would really increase the degrees of separation number. ~Thea

    • Aren’t the Bacon numbers just fun to joke about, Thea? I often get very amused when I consider how these silly things get started in the first place. I don’t think many Americans who were born post-WW II know very much about Patton. He’s a name we all recognize, but that’s about it. And part of my enjoyment in learning more about his family is as I’ve been sharing–understanding how his family truly were pioneers in the settling of Southern California. I didn’t know any of this until I began studying the topic very recently. I’m glad you are enjoying a little bit of it. I hope it encourages everyone to think about the names associated with the founding of their own cities. Local history can be really interesting! 🙂

  15. I’ll certainly travel with you Debra – Should be a fascinating piece of History and you have the opportunity to give a true view of the reality behind the myth of the movies 🙂

    • Thanks for showing interest in my mini-history tour, Martin! The funny part of the story for me is that I started out with an interest in General Patton, but very quickly veered to being more interested in his grandfather. I think the entire family is really quite notable. I have been thinking I’d like to see the movie again, just to see how the myths have been perpetuated. 🙂

I always enjoy hearing from you!

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