Friday, May 31, 2013

Six Degrees of Peter Cushing -- And Now the Screaming Stops -- May 31, 2013

This post is part of  the Peter Cushing Centennial Blogathon, hosted by Pierre Fournier at his excellent blog Frankensteinia (

In my first post for the blogathon, I looked at the ways Peter Cushing was connected to other famous horror movie actors, using the concept of Six Degrees of Separation.  In my second post, I compared him to other actors who have portrayed Sherlock Holmes. In my third post, I compared him to other actors who have played Doctor Who.  In my final post for the blogathon (I promise) I want to dig a little deeper into Degrees of Separation.

I have mentioned that I got most of my information about the relationships between Peter Cushing and other actors from The Oracle of Bacon, a wonderful site that takes reams of data from the Internet Movie Database and processes it into a database which contains a map of about 1.5 million actors and 1.2 million movies and television shows.  It uses a breadth-first search algorithm to find the shortest path between any two actors.

For my other posts, I used the site query which allows one to find the links from Actor X to Actor Y.

For this post, I wanted to explore some of the other queries that the site supports. 

"How good a 'center' is a given actor?" -- This refers to people jokingly calling Kevin Bacon, the inspiration for this post, the Center of the Hollywood Universe.  The first thing they do is see how many people have each possible Peter Cushing number:

Peter Cushing Number# of People

Then they calculate a weighted average ((0 * 1)+(1 * 2004)+(2 * 199213) … (9 * 7) = 5050142) divided by 1605485) = 3.146. So the average Peter Cushing number is 3.146. Compare this to the average Burt Lancaster number, which is 3.036.

Kevin Bacon's average is 2.994.  

The site provides a list of the 1000 best centers.  As of 28-April-2013, the person with the best (lowest) average number is Harvey Keitel (2.849). The 1000th person on the list is Sy Richardson, who was in Repo Man and a bunch of television series (3.060).  So Burt Lancaster would be in the top 1000, and Peter Cushing would just miss.  Being just out of the top 1000 of 1.5 million is not bad.

The people at the site refuse to give the name of the person with the worst average, 10.105, but only seven people have an Actor X number of one, so I assume he was in only one movie or television show.   Only two people have an Actor X number of two, so the other members of the cast probably had limited experience, too. 

Another query is "Who are all the people with an Actor A number of N?".  The only value of N that they support is one.  2004 people have a Peter Cushing number of one.  They include (from among the people I have not yet mentioned):

Anthony Quayle (Hamlet)
Britt Ekland (Asylum)
Carole Lombard (Vigil in the Night)
Danielle Darrieux (Alexander the Great)
Edward Woodward (Incense for the Damned)
Forrest Tucker (The Abominable Snowman)

Most of the images in this post come from the excellent site LucyWho (  As we have seen, he calculations of Peter Cushing numbers come from The Oracle of Bacon (

Thank you to Pierre Fournier for hosting this blogathon.  Thank you to my fellow bloggers for sharing your time, talent and imagination with all of us.  It has been a wonderful experience. And thank you to the people who have taken the time to visit this blog and read my humble contributions.  We bloggers thrive on comments. 

Six Degrees of Peter Cushing -- Horror Films
Six Degrees of Peter Cushing -- Sherlock Holmes
Six Degrees of Peter Cushing -- Doctor Who
Six Degrees of Peter Cushing -- And Now the Screaming Stops 


Craig Edwards said...

You have knocked this series out of the park - my thanks for making my brain explode with all of the numbers flying around out there! Cheers!

Joe Thompson said...

Craig: Thank you for the kind words. I had fun. I enjoyed your stuff and everything else in the blogathon.