He is best known for his starring roles on Broadway including Fiddler on the Roof, (as Tevye) Zorba and Bajour, but he also acted in many television shows, including Peter Gunn and Arnie, where he was the lead.
Born into the Yiddish Theatre, Bernardi was appearing on the stages of 2nd Avenue with his acting family before he could talk.
In the 1930s, Bernardi appeared in the Yiddish films of Edgar G. Ulmer and was later among those actors who made the transition from Yiddish speaking roles in film to American films.
Bernardi was also in several notable films, including Irma La Douce, Love with the Proper Stranger and the 1976 film The Front, a film about blacklisting in the entertainment industry. Bernardi was the victim of blacklisting during the 1950s, as were several other performers and the screenwriter and director on the that film.
Bernardi was a noted voiceover artist and narrator with hundreds of films, commercials and cartoons to his credit and was the original voice of StarKist Tuna animated character, "Charlie the Tuna".