A new and generally useless feature on Google today is the Bacon Number, which allows you to quickly search for the number of degrees of separation any actor or actress is from the iconic Kevin Bacon.
Oh, by the way, this image is kind of scary.
Of course, this sort of game is no fun unless you challenge it, and what greater challenge could there be than silent film mainstay Lon Chaney, Sr.? Also known as The Man of a Thousand Faces, he appeared in over 150 films before his death in 1930. They’re not kidding about the thousand faces, either. His Phantom of the Opera was freaking scary, and it was done with a 1925 level of film technology. I figured this would be a good challenge, considering that he died 28 years before Kevin Bacon’s birth in 1958 (yes, this means Kevin Bacon is 52 years old, which also means he was about 26 in Footloose. I’m a little freaked out, too.)
Anyway, Google returns a Bacon Number of 3 for Lon Chaney, connecting them via Kenneth Branagh and January Jones.
There is a slight problem here. The Unknown is a 1927 film, and Kenneth Branagh was born in 1960. Oops.
Google actually didn’t need to go to the trouble of creating a search capability for Bacon Numbers. The website Oracle of Bacon already does this, and it has been doing it since 1996.
What does it have to say about Lon Chaney?
Huh. Still a Bacon Number of 3, but now it’s two people I’ve never heard of, plus a Kevin Bacon movie I’ve never heard of. Shall we check IMDB?
- The Phantom of the Opera does, in fact have Lon Chaney and Rolfe Sedan (in an uncredited, “undetermined” role.)
- Rolfe Sedan’s last credited movie was 1979’s The Frisco Kid, in which he was one of nine actors credited as “Rabbi.” The movie also had Eda Reiss Merin as “Mrs. Bender.”
- Sure enough, Eda Reiss Merin appeared in 1983’s Enormous Changes at the Last Minute as “Ma.” Kevin Bacon appeared as “Dennis.”
Clearly, Google has been outmatched in this round. (Also, I have wasted a significant portion of the workday.)