Wednesday, April 21, 2010

50 Greatest Soap Actors: #19 Christopher Bernau

NAME: Christopher Bernau
RANK: 19
SOAP ROLES: Alan Spaulding, GUIDING LIGHT (1977-1984, 1986-1988); Philip Todd, DARK SHADOWS (1969-1970)

Connie Passalacqua Hayman (Marlena De Lacroix): As the original Alan Spaulding on GUIDING LIGHT, this actor was mesmerizing: powerful, mostly malevolent and sexy in an authoritarian way. Remember his seduction of Ed's wife Rita under the falls in Jamaica? Just amazing in conflict scenes with a young Grant Aleksander and (the now mostly forgotten) Don Stewart who played Mike Bauer.

Nelson Aspen: Chris created the most complex, dynamic villain of his day, with a complete style of his own that was never replicated by either of his recasts. It was never hard to understand why the women fell for Alan Spaulding. Rather than play the archetype, he offered up charm and seduction with every scene. Frankly, I dont feel that any patriarchal bad guy has ever come close. Terry Lester could have if he'd had the opportunity.

Roger Newcomb: His Alan Spaulding was devious but charming and you couldn't turn away from him. Bernau brought layers to the character that many actors could not come close to. Whether he was manipulating those around him, seducing Rita or marrying Hope, he was one of the main reasons I fell in love with GUIDING LIGHT as a kid. His death in 1989 at the age of 49 was such a tragic loss.

Michael O'Leary: (worked with Bernau on GUIDING LIGHT) Chris was one of the most intimidating actors I've ever met, intimidating in the sense that he kind of reminded me of the Clint Eastwood in daytime. He could do more with a look than anyone I know.


  1. Definitely a great loss when he died. I remember there was party scene later in his run where he spoke to a visiting Mike Bauer asked "how was Hope?" and Mike cut him off quite firmly. The look on Alan's face was off loss, anger and sadness. Truly a great scene

  2. He was my #1. Glad to see so many others remember him as fondly!

  3. I'm so glad that the great Chris Bernau placed so highly on this list. As a young child, I can *clearly* remember the impact both Bernau and Michael Zaslow had on me. Chris was just exceptional as Alan Spaulding. He helped *make* the initial quadrangle of Justin/Jackie/Elizabeth/Alan(with a young Phillip caught in the middle!). One of the great things that either the Dobsons or Doug Marland did (I can't remember which) was have Alan fall in love with Hope Bauer, the daughter of his "enemy", Mike Bauer. How Bernau approached the role after that - with Alan actually trying to be a better man - was Emmy-worthy. I remember how devastated I was when he left the role in 1984 (just one of many GL vets who were either let go or who quit). He is greatly missed.

  4. Zurge, I agree that was Emmy-worthy. Sadly, Bernau is the first actor on the list that was never even nominated for a Daytime Emmy or Soap Opera Digest Award. Blasphemy!