It is obvious that there are similarities between actors from different eras of Hollywood. Audrey Hepburn and Amanda Seyfried share an elegantly elfin innocence with Leslie Caron, George Clooney and Cary Grant are the square jawed grown-up leading man with a sense of self-deprecating humor, Brad Pitt, Clark Gable and Hugh Grant the irresistable charmer with a devilishly boyish streak, Jerry Lewis and Jim Carrey the manically nutty comic with an undercurrent of bathos, aspiration toward romantic lead and a dash of occasional menace.
We recognize these similarities not merely as one individual to another, but in terms of various qualities that we associate with a Hollywood star. I suspect we could lay these qualities out in a multidimensional space, along such axes as childlike ↔ grown-up, masculine ↔ feminine, serious ↔ comic, upbeat ↔ tragic, knowing ↔ innocent, and so forth.
How many dimensions would we need to effectively classify all the major stars, and how accurately could we position each one, perhaps with the assistance of Amazon’s Mechanical Turk? With the right choice of dimensions, would they fall into constellations, with the constellation containing Clooney and Grant far away, in the celestial sphere, from the constellation that contains Pitt and Gable?