"The vibrancy and abrasiveness of New York, which puts some people off, was nourishing to me. It was the kind of atmosphere that I seemed to function well in."
-- Chris Bernau
Feature article: Chris Bernau's Vampire Adventure
Dark Shadows Character:
Appeared in: 23 episodes
First episode: # 888, November 19, 1969
Last episode: # 968, March 11, 1970
Born: Herbert Augustine Bernau, Santa Barbara, California; June 2, 1940
Died: June 14, 1989, of a heart attack/complications from AIDS
Christopher Bernau was born in Santa Barbara, California, and grew up in a small town that he later described as, "physically one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. It is really gorgeous. I was near the sea and the mountains. It is a very easygoing kind of life wonderful atmosphere for a kid to grow up in."
As a youngster he enjoyed watching movies. He told the Daily News in November 1977: "If I had any model, since I didn't want to be a physiotherapist like my dad, it was [John] Barrymore. And I suppose I was good looking in a Barrymore way, which isn't all that fashionable now when directors look for types."
During his senior year of high school, Chris caught the attention of an acting teacher from the University of Santa Monica, who encouraged him to seek an acting scholarship there. He did receive one and soon was appearing in numerous college stage productions.
As college drew to a close, Chris realized he would have to leave the area where he had grown up. "If you have ambitions in areas that are beyond the ordinary, it is not the place to remain, because opportunities are essentially limited," he told Soap Opera Digest. "Most people go to L.A. or San Francisco, or as I did, New York."
Chris loved the Big Apple. "I took to the city instantly," he said. "The vibrancy and abrasiveness of New York, which puts some people off, was nourishing to me. It was the kind of atmosphere that I seemed to function well in."
He quickly landed a job in the Shakespeare in the Park Festival, then in the a national touring company of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and worked steadily on the stage, at times supporting himself with temporary jobs in offices and at the Bergdorf Goodman department store.
In 1969, he was cast in Dark Shadows as Philip Todd. Philip and his wife, Megan (Marie Wallace) owned a spooky antique shop in Collinsport and served as foster parents to the Leviathan child who grew up to be Jeb Hawkes. Chris left the show in 1970.
Chris, who was gay, continued acting on stage, and in 1977 he returned to television, originating the popular character of Alan Spaulding on The Guiding Light. He left the show in 1984 and returned in 1986. He left again in 1988 and died of AIDS complications the following year.
• Guiding Light (Alan Spaulding, 1977-84, 1986-88)
• The Passion of Dracula (Dracula, 1979)
• The Three Musketeers (Canadian).
• The Boys in the Band (1970).
• The Passion of Dracula (Dracula, 1977, NYC; Pittsburgh, 1976), Uncle Vanya, Sweet Bird of Youth (George Scudder), Lloyd George Knew My Father (Washington, D.C., 1974-75), The Jockey Club Stakes (Tom Glass, 1972-73), The Boys in the Band (Larry, 1969), Saint Joan (English Soldier, 1967-68), Galileo (extra, 1966-67), After Magritte (Harris), The Real Inspector Hound (Simon), Little Women (German tutor).
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf