In 1982, I was performing in a play on theater row called Meegan’s Game in the role of the rabbi. During the run, agent Marvin Starkman came to see the show. Afterwards, he came backstage and said he really enjoyed my performance and would like to sign me to his agency.

Three weeks later (after the play had closed) Marvin told me that he had an audition for me for the role of Stu Samuels, Photographer/Pornographer on All My Children. The beard that I’d had for the role of the rabbi in Meegan’s Game turned out to be a plus. 

Bernie as Stu Samuels, 1982

I landed the role opposite Sylvia Miles and Kim Delaney. The role, which was “recurring,” went on for the whole summer, and even months later they brought me back. When they did, the producer asked if I was surprised to be back. I told her “No. Actors live on hope.”

An article in Soap Opera Digest to keep readers up-to-date in case they missed an episode, 1982.

I remember leaving the studio one day with Sylvia Miles to have lunch. There were a group of teenagers who shouted at us “you’d better not hurt Jenny!” (played by Kim Delaney). Sylvia turned to me and said “we must be doing something right.” These teenagers were seeing us as the characters we played and not as actors, and it was great to be that convincing.

Signed headshot Sylvia Miles gave me after the shoot wrapped, 1982.

Before working on one, I though soap operas were easy, that anyone could do them. But I remember getting thirty pages of script for the first episode a week before we started shooting it. I began to realize there was much more to them than I thought. After the first day of shooting, I got another ten pages for the next day. A typical day on a soap opera starts at 7am with rehearsal, which runs until lunch. Shooting follows in the afternoon, scenes being done in no more than two takes, moving from one to another until 7pm. The 12-hour days, the quick prep time, the fast pace — it all  gave me a whole new respect for soaps!