On Herschel Bernardi


Today is the birthday of Herschel Bernardi (1923-1986). I’m just gonna give a quick shout out, rather than let another year go by without doing so.

Without knowing I was doing so, I first knew him as the voice of Charlie the Tuna in Star-Kist commercials:


I’ve always interpreted the character as a Phil Silvers imitation, but maybe I’m wrong.

I think I first encountered his name in the credits to the 1974 Filmation feature Journey Back to Oz (he was the voice of the saw horse of that animated feature).

Bernardi is also well known for having been one of the formerly-blacklisted stars of the 1976 film The Front, and for having replaced Zero Mostel as Tevye in the original Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof. 

From 1970 to 1972 he starred in the CBS sitcom Arnie, and was one of the stars of the 1977 miniseries Seventh Avenue. Other movies he appeared in included Irma La Douce (1963), and Love with the Proper Stranger (1963)

What truly merits his inclusion here, was that Bernardi was a family of actors in the Yiddish theatre, on New York’s Second Avenue, the “Jewish Rialto”. In the 1930, he acted in Yiddish speaking films of Edgar Ulmer. In the 1950s he branched out into TV.

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