On World AIDS Day we pay tribute to some of the actors from the soap opera community who lost their lives to the disease.
Christopher Bernau was born in Santa Barbara on June 2, 1940. He died of a heart attack brought on by complications from AIDS on June 14, 1989 in New York City at age 49.
Bernau grew up in Santa Barbara, the only child of a physiotherapist. After some high school plays, he earned a drama degree at UC Santa Barbara.
His big break came with a role in New York Shakespeare Festival's production of "Antony and Cleopatra" in 1962. He continued in that role until 1964, when he toured nationally in the production of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Bernau was a consummate stage actor whose Broadway work included "The Boys in the Band."
His first soap role was as Philip Todd on DARK SHADOWS in 1969. 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.
He joined the cast of GUIDING LIGHT in 1977 as Alan Spaulding and played the role for most of the next 11 years.
Alan was involved with a number of leading ladies over the years including Elvera Roussel, who played Hope Bauer.
One magazine at the time called them the sexiest couple on all soaps. The couple married in May 1980 after falling in love while being stranded on a deserted island the year before. They would divorce in 1983.
Bernau continued to work on GUIDING LIGHT for as long as he could after being diagnosed with AIDS.
Two weeks after his death in 1989 GUIDING LIGHT cast members held a memorial service for Bernau in Manhattan.
He came in at No. 19 on our 50 Greatest Soap Actors of All-Time list in 2010.
- CLASSIC CLIPS: Chris Bernau
- FLASHBACK: Chris Bernau 1981
- 50 Greatest Soap Actors: #19 Chris Bernau