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Patton’s grandson, Robert H. Patton, I’ve discovered that just like the “Bacon game” innumerable local landmarks and historical references connect through this illustrious family.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.