Driving his taxi in 1958, Bernie got an unexpected "break". He picked up Dick Einfeld who was about to produce The Oregon Trail at 20th Century Fox. Bernie managed to convey to Dick during the ride to the airport that he was really not a "cab driver", but a temporarily misplaced actor. Einfeld cast Bernie as President Polk's secretary! Bernie got his SAG card and two entire lines- "Yes, sir." - "No, sir."
In the early 1960's, Bernie became associated with the Players' Ring Theater in Los Angeles. It was here that he performed a variety of character roles and discovered his facility for accents and dialects. His television debut was in 1961 as a Cuban heavy on the CBS soap The Brighter Day. This role lasted for three months. In retrospect, it hardly seems conceivable that Bernie spent his first four years in the business almost exclusively as a Latin! He played a Mexican on The Danny Thomas Show, The Jack Benny Show and The Steve Allen Show. He was a Puerto Rican dentist on the Flying Nun, a Mexican small town mayor, hotel owner and bartender on My Favorite Martian and a Mexican divorce lawyer on the Dick Van Dyke Show.
As a shyly assertive Russian peddler in The 49th Cousin at the Players' Ring Theater, Bernie caught the attention of Producer Leonard Stern. His mastery of the difficult Russian dialect coupled with the strength of his acting prompted Stern to cast Bernie as "Sigfried" in the popular series Get Smart Stern also cast him as "Howard Wagner" in the prestigious CBS Special Death of a Salesman starring Lee J. Cobb.
From the mid 60's through the early 70's, Bernie could be seen concurrently as "Sigfried", as Marlo Thomas' neighbor "Jerry" on That Girl , as "Louie Palluci" on the Doris Day Show and on Bewitched as the 100 year old apothecary, a Viennese psychiatrist, a blonde hippie and a German submarine captain.
In 1973, Bernie starred as Charlie, the hotshot ladies clothing salesman in Needles and Pins. In 1975 he starred as "Alan-a-Dale" in the Mel Brooks cult comedy, When Things Were Rotten.
After Love Boat , Bernie got back to character work as an arrogant Russian wine expert who tries to dump his young wife of three years - with no settlement! This was on the highly regarded Steven Bochko show, Civil Wars.
Bernie starred as Lenny Ganz in Neil Simon's Rumors at The Burt Reynolds' Jupiter Theater. He then continued with Rumors on a vary successful tour. On the Travel Channel, Bernie enjoyed hosting the very popular Railway Adventures Across Europe.
In LA he starred in the World Premier of A History of Shadows, and a well received revival of Death of a Salesman. Bernie and Catrina Honadle opened their production of Neil Simon's Rumors at the Whitefire Theater in Los Angeles in June of 1996. It got marvelous reviews, sensational word of mouth, and ran for a phenomenal 11 months. Three weeks before closing, Bernie starred in Dick Van Dyke's Diagnosis Murder. In the Diagnosis Murder set, Bernie worked with his old pals Jack Klugman, Wayne Rogers and of course Dick Van Dyke. They'd all heard about Rumors, had been planning to come, and took this opportunity to make a party of it. They all came together and that same night Neil Simon came as well! It was the best performance ever. Neil Simon was ecstatic and said "This should have been my New York production!"
In his private life, last year Bernie married producer-actress Catrina Honadle. On Halloween, October 31st, Bernie and Catrina celebrated the birth of their son, Adam Alexander. Adam is Bernie's first child and he is besotted with Adam. "Catrina and I are so grateful to be blessed with this amazing and gorgeous boy. People stop us in the market and say things like "Oh, what a beautiful child." Obviously Adam is the most important "production" in Catrina and Bernie's life!
Bernie is a health and fitness devotee and works out faithfully with a jump rope. He is the California Chairman of the American Heart Association's "Jump Rope for Heart" program. He frequently participates in and has won many celebrity tennis tournaments benefiting worthy charities around the world.