More than two decades ago, a little game called Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon was born after a trio of bored uni students were holed up in their dorm room watching Footloose.

The game, centred around the "six degrees of separation" theory that any two people are only ever six or less connections apart, involves linking anyone in Hollywood to prolific actor Kevin Bacon via their roles in six film titles or less.

It quickly gained momentum from a grassroots phenomenon among film buffs to widely-known pastime, and is now a mainstay in global pop culture, reports News.com.au.

This week, the inspiration for the Hollywood theory revealed he initially wasn't a fan of the game.

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The 61-year-old actor told The Corp podcast this week that he used to hate the game, believing it framed him as a lowbrow actor and mocked his career.

"I thought the joke was, 'Can you believe that such a lightweight could be connected to Laurence Olivier or Meryl Streep or whatever in six steps or less?'," he explained.

Bill Paxton, Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise, and Kevin Bacon in 1995 film APOLLO 13. Photo / Supplied
Bill Paxton, Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise, and Kevin Bacon in 1995 film APOLLO 13. Photo / Supplied

But Bacon, who rose to fame in the 1980s and has had an illustrious career spanning four decades — most recently starring in crime drama series City on a Hill — has since embraced the game. He even uses it for the title of his own website — SixDegrees.org, a platform that connects people with causes for fundraising purposes.

So how did this thing get started all those years ago?

THE ORIGIN OF SIX DEGREES OF KEVIN BACON

Craig Fass, Mike Ginelli and Brian Turtle of Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania, were the masterminds behind Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

Cooped up inside due to snowy weather one night in 1994, the three then-20-somethings were watching Footloose on TV when an advertisement for another film starring Bacon, The Air Up, came on.

The trailer sparked a discussion.

Bacon had a number of film titles under his belt at this point meaning he had worked with a myriad of actors, so by their logic he was at the centre of the universe.

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Inspired, they came up with a game in which someone would name an actor and they would try to figure out how to connect that person to Bacon in six degrees or fewer.

Kevin Bacon, Mark Wahlberg and John Goodman in a scene from film Patriots Day. Photo / Supplied
Kevin Bacon, Mark Wahlberg and John Goodman in a scene from film Patriots Day. Photo / Supplied

For example: Julia Louis-Dreyfus is connected to Kevin Bacon by two degrees.

The equation? Bacon worked with Wayne Knight on JFK and Knight also played Newman on Seinfeld, in which, of course, Louis-Dreyfus played Elaine Benes. Simple.

The game took off around the university, becoming a party trick of sorts.

On a high from the attention it received from their peers, they wrote a letter to talk show host Jon Stewart, telling him that "Kevin Bacon was the centre of the entertainment universe" and explaining the game.

They then appeared on The Jon Stewart Show and The Howard Stern Show with Bacon to explain the game to the masses.

And thus, a pop culture phenomenon was born.

HOW BACON FIRST HEARD OF THE GAME

In 2014, appearing at the South by Southwest conference, Bacon discussed how he was at first confused when whispers of the game began to swirl in the mid-90s.

"I started to kind of hear about it in strange ways," said the actor. "People would come up to me and touch me and say, 'I'm one degree!' I didn't really know what was going on."

Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon at the premiere of Showtime's City on a Hill. Photo / Getty Images
Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon at the premiere of Showtime's City on a Hill. Photo / Getty Images

He admitted in 2012 that he was "horrified" when he first learnt of the game — its inventors later revealing he was initially stand-offish when they met in person.

"I was absolutely horrified by it. I thought it was a giant joke at my expense," Bacon admitted.

"I know it's a cliche, but actors, behind all the muscles and shining white teeth and low-cut dresses, it really is just masking a lot of deep, deep insecurity. I thought, 'I'm going to be a laughing stock'."

Bacon — as probably many before him — thought the game would be a fad. But it endured, and to his absolute credit, he's taken it in his stride.

SIX DEGREES OF KEVIN BACON IN RECENT HISTORY

In 2007 Bacon launched non-profit SixDegrees.org, a website that connects people and charity causes.

The "Six Degrees" game has also inspired a website, The Oracle of Bacon, which lets people type in any actor's name to see how closely they link, taking out the grunt work for those not instantly familiar with Bacon's back catalogue.

Actors Jennifer Aniston & Kevin Bacon in the 1997 film Picture Perfect. Photo / News Corp Australia
Actors Jennifer Aniston & Kevin Bacon in the 1997 film Picture Perfect. Photo / News Corp Australia

Google also introduced a "Bacon number" search in 2012, which lets users enter a celebrity name along with "Bacon number" to produce the same result.

With Bacon having appeared in more than 65 movies, including many with large ensemble casts, an average result of around two is almost guaranteed.

The Bacon theory has since been used in advertising campaigns, referenced in many a TV series and comedy skit, and Bacon even narrated a National Geographic Channel show The Human Family Tree — a programme which explored the genetic interconnectedness of all humans.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE INVENTORS?

In the midst of their 15 minutes, Craig Fass, Mike Ginelli and Brian Turtle penned the book Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, a companion to the boardgame with an introduction written by the actor.

But after the book's release in 1996, all three stepped away from the spotlight as quickly as they entered it. Turtle took up a career in marketing for the company that first released the boardgame, Ginelli worked as an investment banker and Fass was a chef.

But while their fame was short-lived, their legacy lives on.