Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon: The Eva Bleich Connection

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon is a trivia game based on the concept of the small world phenomenon and rests on the assumption that any actor can be linked through his or her film roles to actor Kevin Bacon within six steps.

The game requires a group of players to try to connect any film actor in history to Kevin Bacon as quickly as possible and in as few links as possible.

In my second year of law school I met a fellow student named Eva Bleich in Professor Burton Caine's Constitutional Law class (Civil Rights) at Temple University Law School in Philadelphia. She used to badger me. She said she was trying to turn me into a mensch. Whatever that meant!

Eva Bleich was a German-Jew who had been born in Fuerth, Germany -- near Nuremberg. Henry Kissinger was also from Fuerth. Her parents were concentration camp survivors. Her mother lived in Florida. Her father, who was deceased, was originally from Berlin. Law was a second career for her; she had been a nurse.

We later had other courses together. Civil Procedure taught by Gerald Tietz. I once mentioned to Eva Bleich that Tietz was the name of a department store in pre-war Berlin. Try working that fact into conversations with most people!

Eva Bleich and I were also in Professor Myers' Conflicts of Law class and Professor Reinstein's Employment Discrimination class. She wrote a paper for Professor Reinstein's course on comparative worth for female employees.

Eva Bleich lived in New Hope with her husband, who had a background in mathematics but practiced law at a Philadelphia firm. I wonder if Eva Bleich's husband ever heard of Georg Friedrich Riemann, the famous German mathematician.

Eva Bleich used to drive to Temple Law School in North Philadelphia. In my final year of law school I worked part time at the law firm of Sagot and Jennings at Penn Center in downtown Philadelphia; Eva Bleich would drive me downtown to work after class. I used to tell her that she had a Christian heart. She got the joke. Jesse Raben never got the joke. Maybe you have to be the child of Holocaust survivors to see the black humor in that. By the way, Claudio Grossman saw the black humor in things; but then, he was a survivor of a different sort, driven from his homeland of Chile.

Penn Center was a complex of modern buildings in the heart of Philadelphia. It was conceived by Edmond Bacon, the father of the actor Kevin Bacon. Edmund Norwood Bacon (May 2, 1910 – October 14, 2005) was a noted American urban planner, architect, educator and author. During his tenure as the Executive Director of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission from 1949 to 1970, his visions shaped today's Philadelphia, the city in which he was born, to the extent that he is sometimes described as "The Father of Modern Philadelphia."

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