About Bernie Kopell:
Around the world, Bernie Kopell is instantly recognized as “Dr. Adam Bricker,” the ship’s’ medic on board ABC’s long running hit comedy The Love Boat. It played in 98 countries.
Bernie was born and raised in Brooklyn, went to Erasmus High, and then on to NYU where he majored in Dramatic Art. Following his graduation, Bernie fulfilled his military obligation in the US Navy. He hesitates to talk about his heroism – – – – but aboard the USS Iowa, he was the librarian and modestly admits he kept America safe from overdue books!
Driving a taxi in 1958, Bernie got an unexpected “break.” He picked up Dick Einfeld who was about to produce The Oregon Trail starring Fred MacMurray at 20th Century Fox. Bernie managed to convey to Dick during the ride to the airport that he was not really a “cab driver”, but a temporarily misplaced actor. Einfeld cast Bernie as President Polk’s secretary! Bernie got his SAG card and two entire lines – “Yes, sir.” – “No Sir.”
His television debut was in 1961 as a Cuban heavy on the CBS soap The Brighter Day. This role lasted for three months. In retrospect, it hardly seems conceivable that Bernie spent his first four years in the business almost exclusively as a Latin! He played a Mexican on The Danny Kaye Show, The Jack Benny Show and The Steve Allen Show. He was a Puerto Rican dentist on The Flying Nun, a Mexican small town mayor, hotel owner and bartender on My Favorite Martian and a Mexican divorce lawyer on The Dick Van Dyke Show.
It was at the Players’ Ring Theater in Los Angeles, where he performed a variety of character roles and discovered his facility for accents. As a shyly assertive Russian peddler in The 49th Cousin at the Players’ Ring Theatre, Bernie caught the attention of Producer Leonard Stern. His mastery of the difficult Russian dialect coupled with the strength of his acting prompted Stern to cast Bernie as “Siegfried” in the popular series Get Smart. Stern also cast him as “Howard Wagner” in the prestigious CBS Special Death of a Salesman, starring Lee J. Cobb.