Bernardi is known for his starring roles on Broadway, including Fiddler on the Roof (as Tevye), Zorba, and Bajour, but he also acted in many television programs, including Harbor Command and The Eleventh Hour (both with Wendell Corey) and State Trooper with Rod Cameron.
From 1958-1961 Bernardi co-starred with Craig Stevens in Blake Edwards popular television series Peter Gunn. He received his sole Emmy nomination for his portrayal of Lieutenant Jacoby.
In 1963, he was cast as Mr. Otis, a teacher who mostly ignores his students, in the episode, "I Don't Even Live Here", of the NBC education drama series, Mr. Novak, starring James Franciscus.
In 1970, Bernardi was the lead in the CBS sitcom Arnie. Bernardi starred for two years as someone plucked from the loading dock of a flange company to become an executive.
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 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", as well as the original voice of the Jolly Green Giant and also was the narrator of a Tootsie Pop commercial, saying "How many licks does it take to get to theTootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? The world may never know.".
Herschel Bernardi also had two minor record hits, 1967's "If I Were A Rich Man", reflecting his success as Tevye, and 1971's "Pencil Marks On The Wall".
Herschel Bernardi died in his sleep of a sudden heart attack in Los Angeles, California, on May 9, 1986. He was 62 years old. Bernardi is buried at Mt. Sinai Memorial Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.