Have you ever played the game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”?
It’s a fun party game where you try to connect any actor or actress to Kevin Bacon through their film roles in six steps or less.
But did you know that mathematicians have taken this game and turned it into a phenomenon called the “Bacon Number”?
This number represents an actor’s degree of separation from Kevin Bacon, with the most common range being 2-3.
However, there are some actors out there with much higher Bacon Numbers.
In this article, we’ll explore who has the largest Bacon Number and what it means for their connection to the rest of the acting universe.
So grab some popcorn and let’s dive in!
Who Has Largest Bacon Number?
The actor with the largest known Bacon Number is a mystery. While we know that William Rufus Shafter holds a Bacon Number of 7, there are likely actors out there with even higher numbers.
For those unfamiliar with the game, the Bacon Number is determined by finding the minimum number of connections an actor has to Kevin Bacon through their film roles. For example, if Actor A appeared in a movie with Actor B, who appeared in a movie with Actor C, who appeared in a movie with Kevin Bacon, then Actor A’s Bacon Number would be 3.
But what does it mean to have a high Bacon Number? Essentially, it means that an actor is less connected to the rest of the acting universe. They may have worked on smaller or more obscure films, or simply haven’t had the opportunity to work with other actors who have worked with Kevin Bacon.
While having a high Bacon Number may not necessarily impact an actor’s career, it is an interesting phenomenon to explore. It also highlights the interconnectedness of the film industry and how even seemingly small roles can lead to connections with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars.
So while we may never know who holds the title for largest Bacon Number, it’s still fun to play the game and see how many degrees of separation we can find between our favorite actors and Kevin Bacon.
What Is The Bacon Number And How Is It Calculated?
The Bacon Number is a game that measures an actor’s degree of separation from Kevin Bacon. It is based on the concept of Six Degrees of Separation, which suggests that any two people in the world can be connected through a chain of no more than six acquaintances.
To calculate an actor’s Bacon Number, you first start with Kevin Bacon himself, who has a Bacon Number of 0. If an actor has worked in a movie with Kevin Bacon, their Bacon Number is 1. If an actor has not worked with Kevin Bacon but has worked with someone who has, their Bacon Number is 2, and so on. The idea is to find the shortest path between any given actor and Kevin Bacon.
The calculation is based on movies produced by major studios and listed on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). However, not all actors have a finite Bacon Number. Some actors have only appeared in TV shows or straight-to-video releases that are not counted by IMDb, while others have not appeared in any features with actors from the Hollywood mainstream.
Despite these limitations, the Bacon Number remains a popular game among movie fans and has even been used to study the structure of social networks and other complex systems. It highlights the interconnectedness of the film industry and how seemingly small roles can lead to connections with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars.
The Actors With The Highest Bacon Numbers
While there may be actors with even higher Bacon Numbers, the current record for the highest known finite Bacon Number belongs to William Rufus Shafter, with a Bacon Number of 7. However, there are still actors with relatively high Bacon Numbers that are worth noting.
One such actor is Fred Ott, who acted in only two films and is the only actor in each of them. This disproves the theory of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon that everyone who has ever appeared in any movie has a finite Bacon number. Another example is Thomas Edison, who appeared in a film and would have a Bacon Number if counted.
It’s also worth noting that according to the Oracle of Bacon, about 12% of all actors cannot be linked to the rest of the movie universe. This may be because they have only appeared in TV features or straight-to-video releases that the Oracle doesn’t count, or because they have not appeared in any features with actors from the Hollywood mainstream.
Despite these outliers, the majority of actors do have a Bacon Number of 2 or 3. The higher the Bacon Number of an actor, the less connected they are to other actors. Using one of the actors with the highest known finite Bacon number (8), William Rufus Shafter as the center of the acting universe instead of Kevin Bacon, we can find two actors with a Rufus Shafter number of 15.
The Role Of Social Media In Increasing Bacon Numbers
In today’s digital age, social media has played a significant role in increasing an actor’s Bacon Number. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn allow actors to connect with each other and expand their networks. By having more connections, the likelihood of working on a project with someone who has worked with Kevin Bacon increases.
In fact, actress Felicia Day believes that the idea behind social media was to create a platform where people could see who is connected to whom. Even before social media became a trend, the concept of weak ties was already being utilized in Hollywood. The theory suggests that acquaintances can be more helpful in getting a job than close friends.
For instance, if an actor has worked with Kevin Bacon, and their friend has no other mutual friends, they could still use the local bridge established by Kevin Bacon to connect with him. Moreover, the Strong Triadic Principle suggests that if Kevin Bacon has worked with two actors, Node B and Node C, who have not worked with each other before, they are more likely to know each other due to their connection with Kevin Bacon.
Google’s Knowledge Graph also plays a significant role in automating the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game. The feature returns the Bacon Number of celebrities based on their connections in the Knowledge Graph. As Google’s spokesperson stated, the feature equips users with ways to explore and discover more.
Bacon Number As A Measure Of Acting Success
The Bacon Number has become a popular measure of an actor’s success in the film industry. While it may not directly correlate to an actor’s talent or box office success, a low Bacon Number can indicate that an actor has worked on more high-profile films and with more well-known actors.
For example, an actor with a Bacon Number of 2 or 3 may have worked on major studio productions and collaborated with well-known actors, while an actor with a Bacon Number of 7 or 8 may have worked on smaller or more independent films.
However, it’s important to note that having a high Bacon Number does not necessarily mean an actor is less successful or talented. Many actors who have worked on smaller productions or in theater may have higher Bacon Numbers but still have successful and fulfilling careers.
The Evolution Of The Six Degrees Of Kevin Bacon Game
The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game has evolved from a simple parlor game to a mathematical problem in graph theory. It all started with the assumption that anyone involved in the Hollywood film industry can be linked through their film roles to Kevin Bacon within six steps. This led to the creation of the game, where players challenge each other to connect actors to Kevin Bacon via a film they both appeared in together.
As the game gained popularity, mathematicians gave it a name – the Bacon Number. Researchers have even demonstrated that almost everyone has a Bacon Number less than 10, due to Kevin Bacon appearing in almost every film on the planet. However, finding the shortest path between two actors in terms of the number of connecting movies used became a traditional graph theory problem.
To aid in the search for connections, Google incorporated an Easter Egg search function that makes it possible for people to search “Bacon Number” followed by an actor’s name and see how many steps it takes to link them to Kevin Bacon. With this new function, it quickly became clear that the Bacon Number is not as high as once thought, with most results showing an easy four or fewer associations to get to the actor.
Despite this, there are still actors out there with high Bacon Numbers. The Hall of Fame used to list all the people who found actors and actresses with Bacon numbers of 7 or higher before it was discontinued in February 2001. And while we may never know who holds the title for largest Bacon Number, it’s still fun to play the game and see how many degrees of separation we can find between our favorite actors and Kevin Bacon.