Life and career
Bernau trained in the drama department at the University of California before getting his big break, appearing in the 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? These roles, in addition to performing at Canada's Stratford Festival, led to an appearance in a story arc on Dark Shadows in 1969 and 1970.
His most famous role, however, was that of villain Alan Spaulding on the soap opera Guiding Light, a role he played from 1977 to 1984 and again from 1986 until shortly before his death in 1989.
Though his famous character was portrayed as a habitual womanizer, Bernau is considered to be one of the only truly "out" soap opera actors, as it was fairly well known by both the actors he worked with and the soap press at large that he was gay.
Bernau was diagnosed with AIDS but continued to work on Guiding Light. He left the show when he became too ill to show up at work, and he died of a heart attack brought on by complications from AIDS. He is buried at Santa Barbara Cemetery, Santa Barbara, California