Sunday, December 09, 2007

It's a small world, after all

My sister called this afternoon and, as usual, we had a delightful chat. After we checked on the well-being of each other's families, she mentioned a bit of news that set my mind off on a six-degrees-of-separation tangent.

This photo was taken in my mother's home on my first wedding day. That's 18-year-old me at center right, holding a cup of lime sherbet/ginger ale punch, and that's the man I'd just married with his back to the camera.

The news my sister gave me in passing today was that the man at left in the photo, in the background, died recently. This was my husband's best man, his former boss, who was an East Texas automobile dealer. In fact, it hadn't been in our plans, but we ended up spending our wedding night at this man's fishing camp -- along with him and his entire family. (If that sounds weird to you, I assure you it felt even stranger to me.)

I didn't know this man well, although we'd socialized with him and his wife a number of times. They were in their mid-thirties and I was half their age. I didn't have a lot in common with them. Often, when we visited them, I managed to avoid adult conversation by calling on my babysitting experience and entertaining their children until it was time to leave. All of my visits with them were before the marriage. We moved out of town right after the wedding, and I don't remember if I ever saw any of them again.

Some years (and another husband) later, I was reminded of this man when I learned that his daughter had moved to Atlanta, Georgia and had just won the title of "Miss Georgia." I saw her on TV and was horrified to realize I was old enough to say truthfully that I once piggybacked a Miss USA contestant. She had grown up to be a beautiful woman. Ted Turner liked her enough to give her her own talk show when CNN was in its early days.

For those of you checking out the six-degrees-of-separation thing, there's me, then the pageant queen I piggybacked, then Ted Turner. That's just two degrees. If we take it one degree further, Ted Turner married Jane Fonda -- who, coincidentally, is my eighth cousin, twice removed. (Yes, I'll admit it: I'm distantly related to -- but separated by only three degrees from -- Hanoi Jane.)

Anyway, back to the immediate story:

According to what my sister told me and what I've read on the Internet since her phone call, this man who was best man at my first wedding became somewhat politically active in the years after we left there. One of his good political friends was Charlie Wilson, the flamboyant Texas congressman who is the subject of Charlie Wilson’s War, a book by George Crile. I haven't read the book yet, but after reading this excerpt and finding on page 10 the names of my husband's best man and his daughter, I definitely will.

The book has been made into a movie that's due out this month. I saw an Oprah show about the movie and was interested in seeing it even before I discovered the connection. It has a great cast, including Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and (you guessed it, Kim) Philip Seymour Hoffman.

So, here we go: First there's me, then there's my husband's best man, then there's Charlie Wilson, then there's Tom Hanks. That's four degrees. But wait; it gets better.

Tom Hanks did another movie you may remember called Forrest Gump. Holly, better known to some bloggers as CreekHiker, worked on that movie. Isn't that cool? Holly (in Los Angeles) and I (in Louisiana) were separated by only five degrees long before we ever heard of each other.

(Sigh.) I love this game.


  1. I saw Forest Gump and have the Forest Gump cookbook, and my Personal Hurricane wears a Forest Gump t-shirt... I think we're connected. Wait, we're already conncected. :-)

  2. Alison, that's the spirit! Yes, having met personally, we're connected in the first degree.

  3. Oh, this is so fun! What a great post!

    We do that sort of thing on movie sets. It's such a small community, everyone has worked with someone else you know.

    My bro-in-law in Baton Rouge has a look a like younger bro in Lafayette. This man was a coach, a principal and now a politician. He knows everybody! I've been with him thousands of miles from home and had strangers approach. Even more funny is when I'm with my brother-in-law and at first everyone thinks it's the brother.

  4. Holly, considering your movie-set experience, you could probably be a vital link to tons of well-known people. Forgive me for asking an obvious question, but have you figured out how you might be linked to Kevin Bacon?

  5. I got lost in all that ...but came 360 degrees and enjoyed seeing you at 18! What a life you have had.

  6. It's too early and I haven't finished my first cup o' coffee yet, but this is great, the connection people have.

  7. I've been to a Kevin Bacon concert... does that count?

    But according to the online Bacon game, Hanks and Bacon were in Apollo 13 together giving me a Bacon # of two there

    But, I've also worked with Lucille Ball, George Burns, Sean Connery, Christophe Lambert, Virginia Madsen, John C. McGinley, Edward Woodward (The Equalizer), Avery Brooks (Spenser for hire), Phylicia Rashad (Cosby Show), & Paul Newman. All have a Bacon # of 2. Pretty cool, huh?

  8. I have often heard that we are three people removed from one another. However, it is an interesting subject matter. I found out later in my life (twenties) that I was 4 degrees removed from Elvis, I know, I know, either you loved him or you didn't. I did.

  9. This is great, following those connections, I'm glad I visited today!

    I need to be reminded, sometimes, that we are all connected, in the strangest of ways!

  10. Sister-Three, my life has been pretty ordinary -- but a few people who have passed through it were real characters.

    Janet, it's fun -- but it does get confusing.

    CreekHiker, I knew you wouldn't disappoint us on the Kevin Bacon game, but a #2? Excellent!

    Maxngabbie, my former neighbor went to high school with Elvis, which makes me two degrees separated from the King. Adding your four degrees to my two, that makes a six-degree separation between you and me. Way cool!

    Marion, I'm glad you visited, too. I think the best thing about blogging is the way it connects us to people we might never have met otherwise.

  11. Ok, My mom went dancing with Elvis... so I'm a 2 as well. Who doesn't love him??? Crazy people... LOL!

  12. I don't know of anyone famous that I'm even 6 degrees of separation from - unless we can count me knowing you and Holly via the blog world - then I know lots and lots and lots.

  13. Way to go, CreekHiker's mom!

    Annie, being in Little Rock, you're bound to know someone who knows someone who's met Bill
    Clinton -- or Mike Huckabee. I'll bet the connections are there even if you haven't discovered them yet.

    Which reminds me: One of my 9th-grade classmates was John Ashcroft. Remember him?

  14. I am so sorry you had to bear the
    9th grad with John Ashcroft. You poor dear.

  15. Sister-Three, he was the nicest boy you'd ever want to meet back then. I'd moved away and totally forgotten about him until he was named Attorney General, but when I realized who he was, I was delighted. Either I didn't know him well enough in ninth grade (which is quite possible) or he really changed as he grew older, but it was quite a let-down to see how vast was the difference between his thinking and mine.

  16. Velvet...the sisters are related to Merle Haggard...heard the song?

    Born in Newton County
    Down in Arkansas
    Then in 1901
    She married Grandpa

    She was our Grandma Ann Catherine
    Tate Maples niece...Patsy's namesake! Her name was Arizona


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