Herschel Bernardi

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Herschel Bernardi
Herschel Bernardi 1970.JPG
Bernardi in 1970
Born(1923-10-30)October 30, 1923
New York City, U.S.
DiedMay 9, 1986(1986-05-09) (aged 62)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Resting placeMount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery
Occupation(s)Actor, singer
Years active1937–1986
Cynthia Bernardi
(m. 1958; div. 1971)

Teri Bernardi
(m. 1982)

Herschel Bernardi (October 30, 1923 – May 9, 1986) was an American actor and singer.[1] He is best known for his supporting role in the drama television series Peter Gunn (1958–1961) and his leading role in the comedy television series Arnie (1970–1972). The two series earned him a Primetime Emmy Award nomination and two consecutive Golden Globe Award nominations.

On stage, Bernardi appeared in many Broadway musicals. He was nominated for two Tony Awards for his performances in the original production of Zorba and the 1981 revival of Fiddler on the Roof.


Born in New York City, Herschel Bernardi was the youngest son of Berel and Helen Bernardi, both Jewish. He was appearing on the stages of 2nd Avenue with his acting family before he could talk. In the 1930s, Bernardi appeared in the Yiddish films of Edgar G. Ulmer and was later among those actors who made the transition from Yiddish language films to English language films. Herschel was the brother of Jack Bernardi (who played Harvey Pulp in It's a Bikini World).[citation needed]

Bernardi is known for his starring roles on Broadway, including Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, Zorba, and Bajour. He also appeared in many television programs, including Harbor Command and The Eleventh Hour (both with Wendell Corey) and State Trooper with Rod Cameron.[2]

His career as a performer was affected by his being blacklisted for alleged involvement in the Communist Party in the 1950s.

From 1958 to 1961, Bernardi co-starred with Craig Stevens in Blake Edwards's television series Peter Gunn.[3]: 827  He received his sole Emmy nomination, for Best Supporting Actor (Continuing Character) in a Dramatic Series - 1959,[4] for his portrayal of Lieutenant Jacoby.

In 1961 Bernardi guest-starred in a Bonanza episode ("The Smiler") as Clarence Bolling, the vengeful brother of a murdered man.

In 1963 he was cast as Mr. Otis, a teacher who mostly ignores his students, in the episode "I Don't Even Live Here" of the NBC education drama series Mr. Novak starring James Franciscus.

Bernardi starred in the CBS sitcom Arnie (1970-1972).[3] He starred for two years as someone plucked from the loading dock of a flange company to become an executive. He was nominated for Golden Globe Awards for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy in 1971 and 1972.[5]

He voiced Woodhead the rocking horse in Filmation's Journey Back to Oz. He also provided the Cowardly Lion's singing voice while Milton Berle provided the character's speaking voice. He also appeared as Joe Vitelli in the 1977 TV miniseries Seventh Avenue.

In Hail to the Chief (1985), a comedy on ABC, Bernardi played Helmut Luger.[3]: 425 

Bernardi was in several notable films, including Murder by Contract (1958); A Cold Wind in August (1961); The George Raft Story (1961); Irma La Douce (1963); Love with the Proper Stranger (1963); No Deposit, No Return (1976); and The Front (1976), a film about blacklisting in the entertainment industry. Bernardi was the victim of blacklisting during the 1950s, as were several other performers and the screenwriter and director on that film. Bernardi also narrated and emceed The Golden Age of Second Avenue, a 1969 film documentary about the Yiddish theatre movement on New York's Lower East Side of the early-to-mid 20th century (where Bernardi had launched his acting career).

Bernardi was a noted voiceover artist and narrator with hundreds of films, commercials and cartoons to his credit and was the original voice of StarKist Tuna animated character "Charlie the Tuna" as well as the original voice of the Jolly Green Giant and was also the narrator of a long-running Tootsie Pop commercial, saying, "How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? The world may never know."[6]

Herschel Bernardi also had two minor record hits, 1967's "If I Were a Rich Man", reflecting his success as Tevye, and 1971's "Pencil Marks on the Wall".

In 1961, the Vanguard Recording Society issued "Chocolate Covered Matzohs", recorded 'live' in front of an audience at the Valley Cities Jewish Community Center of Los Angeles, California, which was a collection of sentimental and wryly humorous tales in Yiddish and English of Jewish immigration into the U.S. at the turn of the 20th century and also featured some songs.


Bernardi died in his sleep of a heart attack in Los Angeles, California, on May 9, 1986,[7] at age 62.[2] Bernardi is buried at Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.[citation needed]



Year Title Role Notes
1937 Green Fields Avram-Yankov Credited as Hershel Bernardi
1938 The Singing Blacksmith Young Yankel Credited as Hershel Bernardi
1947 Danger Street Casino Doorman Uncredited
1958 Stakeout on Dope Street Mr. Fennel
1958 Murder by Contract George
1959 The Savage Eye Kirk
1959 1001 Arabian Nights The Jinni of the Lamp (voice)
1961 A Cold Wind in August Juley Franz
1961 The George Raft Story Sam
1963 Irma la Douce Inspector Lefevre
1963 Love with the Proper Stranger Dominick Rossini
1963 The Great Rights (voice) Short Film
1964 Send Me No Flowers TV Announcer (voice) Uncredited
1964 The Hangman Narrator Short Film
1965 The Man from Button Willow The Captain / Saloon Man #1 (voice)
1965 Sean O'Casey: The Spirit of Ireland Narrator (voice) Short Film
1967 The Honey Pot Oscar Ludwig Scenes deleted
1967 Union Carbide: Super Insulation Short Film
1970 The Ghost Monster (voice) Short Film
1970 The Drifter (voice) Short Film
1970 The Proton Pulsator Strong Man / Diaper Man / Tornado Man (voice) Short Film
1970 The Shocker (voice) Short Film
1971 The Big Freeze Strong Man / Diaper Man / Tornado Man (voice) Short Film
1972 Journey Back to Oz Woodenhead Pinto Stallion III (voice)
1972 The Paper Monster Strong Man / Diaper Man / Tornado Man (voice) Short Film
1976 No Deposit, No Return Sgt. Turner
1976 The Front Phil Sussman


Year Title Role Notes
1956–1958 NBC Matinee Theatre Borachio / M. Plevian 4 episodes
1957 Studio 57 Episode: "A Little Care"
1958 The Walter Winchell File Episode: "Terror"
1958 Suspicion Father Salvadore Episode: "Comfort for the Grave"
1958 Harbor Command Turk Savage Episode: "Four to Die"
1958 Mike Hammer Joe Sale Episode: "A Shot in the Arm"
1958 The Court of Last Resort Frank Kerlo Episode: "The Allen Cutler Case"
1958 State Trooper Jake Carney Episode: "312 Vertical"
1958 Zorro Manuel Hernandez Episode: "The Sergeant Regrets"
1958 Schlitz Playhouse of Stars Eddie Episode: "You'll Have to Die Now"
1958 M Squad Vic Gordon Episode: "The Executioner"
1958–1961 Peter Gunn Lieutenant Jacoby 102 episodes
1961 Bonanza Clarence Bolling Episode: "The Smiler"
1961 Cain's Hundred Louis Strode Episode: "The Penitent: Louis Strode"
1961 Top Cat Muggsy (voice) Episode: "The Unscratchables"
1961–1962 Dr. Kildare Nathan Agurski / Pico 2 episodes
1962 Checkmate Ned Hazly Episode: "The Renaissance of Gussie Hill"
1962 The Detectives Arizon Episode: "The Con Man"
1962 The Flintstones Agent / Detective / Doctor #1 / Silky (voice) 4 episodes
1962 Sam Benedict Insp. Tony Delgano Episode: "Twenty Aching Years"
1962 Naked City Gus Slate / Stanley Dorkner 2 episodes
1962 The Untouchables Benno Fisk / Julius Albert Vernon 2 episodes
1962–1963 The Dick Powell Theatre Christopher Burton / Major Abrams 2 episodes
1962–1964 Route 66 Gerald Ward / Dr. Arthur Reisman 2 episodes
1962–1964 Insight Host 2 episodes
1963 Car 54, Where Are You? Governor's Aide Episode: "The Biggest Day of the Year"; uncredited
1963 Mr. Novak Mr. Otis Episode: "I Don't Even Live Here"
1963 The Eleventh Hour Bernie Miller / Harry Cizon 2 episodes
1964 Grindl Joe Bostick Episode: "The Lucky Piece"
1964 Burke's Law Kid McCoy Episode: "Who Killed Marty Kelso?"
1964 Kraft Suspense Theatre Joe Monti Episode: "Their Own Executioners"
1964 The Defenders George Conn / Myron Bellmore 2 episodes
1964 Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre McCarthy Episode: "The Sojourner"
1964 Vacation Playhouse Jerome P. Baggley Episode: "Hooray for Hollywood"
1965 Profiles in Courage Gen. Daniel Sickles Episode: "Edmund G. Ross"
1965 The Doctors and the Nurses Carl Garson Episode: "The Witnesses"
1965 The Trials of O'Brien Grommet Episode: "Bargain Day on the Street of Regret"
1965 The Fugitive Captain Ames 2 episodes
1965 Seaway Captain Petroff Episode: "Abraham's Hand"
1966 The Mighty Heroes Strong Man / Diaper Man / Tornado Man (voice) 2 episodes
1968 The Red Skelton Hour Muggsy Episode: "Love Is an Itch You Can't Scratch"
1968 A Hatful of Rain John Pope, Sr. TV movie
1970 But I Don't Want to Get Married! Walter Benjamin TV movie
1970–1972 Arnie Arnie Nuvo Main cast; 48 episodes
1971 Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In Guest Performer 2 episodes; uncredited
1972 No Place to Run Hyam Malsh TV movie
1972 Sandcastles Alexis TV movie
1974 Judgement: The Trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenburg TV movie
1974 The Story of Jacob and Joseph Laban TV movie
1975 Lucas Tanner Bert Nevins Episode: "Those Who Cannot, Teach"
1976 Good Heavens Morris Kropotkin Episode: "The Queen's Rook Club"
1976 Newman's Drugstore Charles Newman TV movie
1977 Seventh Avenue Joe Vitelli 3 episodes
1978 Actor Nahum Favel Weissenfreund TV movie
1979 $weepstake$ Episode: "Episode #1.5"
1981 The Million Dollar Face Nick Ravenna TV movie
1985 Murder, She Wrote Det. Lt. Avery Mendelsohn Episode: "Capitol Offense"
1985 Hail to the Chief Helmut Luger Episode: "Pilot"
1985 The Greatest Adventure: Stories from the Bible Goliath (voice) Episode: "David and Goliath"
1986 Highway to Heaven Everett Soloman Episode: "The Torch"
1986 The Magical World of Disney Bogosian Episode: "I-Man"
1986 Taking It Home Papa Joe Morelli TV movie


Year Title Role Notes
1969 Tootsie Pop: How Many Licks Announcer (voice)


  1. ^ Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries
  2. ^ a b Saxon, Wolfgang (May 10, 1986). "Herschel Bernardi, 62, Played Tevye in 'Fiddler on the Roof'". The New York Times. Retrieved September 22, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 57. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.
  4. ^ "Awards Search". Emmy Awards. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Archived from the original on August 19, 2018. Retrieved August 19, 2018.
  5. ^ "Herschel Bernardi". Golden Globe Awards. Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Archived from the original on August 19, 2018. Retrieved August 19, 2018.
  6. ^ Jones, Jack (May 10, 1986). "Herschel Bernardi, First 'Zorba' on Broadway, Dies". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 22, 2014.
  7. ^ Entertainment Tonight story on Bernardi's death on YouTube

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