|Born||July 12, 1905|
|Died||May 20, 2000 (aged 94)|
Van Nuys, California, U.S.
While in his junior year in Lake View High School, he and several friends formed a small radio clique and obtained amateur licenses. In the early 1920s, there was considerable prestige for amateur operators to have commercial radio licenses, and Bernds was in a good position to enter broadcasting when he graduated in 1923, a year when radio stations began to be established all over Chicago. He found employment — at age 20 — as chief operator at Chicago's WENR.
When talking pictures began in the late 1920s, Bernds and broadcast operators like him relocated to Hollywood to work as sound technicians in "the talkies". After a brief period at United Artists, Bernds resigned and worked at Columbia Pictures, where he functioned as sound engineer on many of Frank Capra's classics in the 1930s. He soon established himself as Columbia's best recording technician.
Bernds wanted to be a director, but could not work up the nerve to approach Columbia president Harry Cohn about the reassignment. Frank Capra ran into Bernds one day, and made Bernds promise to talk with Cohn that evening. Cohn, although well aware of Bernds's prowess in the sound department, grudgingly granted Bernds's wish.
In 1945, Bernds became a screenwriter and director, first for the Three Stooges short subjects. His first effort with the team was the lackluster A Bird in the Head (1946), which features an ailing Curly Howard. The 41-year-old Howard had suffered a series of minor strokes prior to filming; as a result, his tired performances were marred by slurred speech and slower timing. Though Bernds was initially thrilled at being a director, he was horrified when he realized that Curly was in such bad shape (something Columbia short-subject head Jules White failed to tell Bernds). Years later, Bernds discussed his trying experience during the filming of A Bird in the Head:
Realizing that Curly was no longer able to perform in the same capacity as before, Bernds devised ways to cover his illness. Curly could still be the star, but the action was shifted away from the ailing Stooge. In A Bird in the Head, the action focuses more on crazy Professor Panzer and Igor. This allowed Curly to maintain a healthy amount of screen time without being required to contribute much.
Bernds often commented that he and Jules White never really got along. As a result, Bernds feared that his directing days would be over as soon as they began if he released A Bird in the Head with a weak Curly as his first entry. Producer Hugh McCollum reshuffled the release order, and the superior Micro-Phonies (1945) was released first, securing Bernds's directing position. Bernds struggled through three additional films, all released in 1946, (The Three Troubledoers, Monkey Businessmen and Three Little Pirates, with Curly in varying stages of decline) until the comedian suffered a debilitating stroke that ended his career. When Shemp Howard replaced his brother Curly as the third Stooge, it breathed new life into the Stooges' films, and allowed Bernds to add new flair and wit to the team's antics.
Columbia's short-subject department operated two units, one headed by Jules White, the other by Hugh McCollum. Edward Bernds worked for the McCollum unit, usually collaborating on scripts with Elwood Ullman. Every Columbia series alternated between the White and McCollum units, allowing Bernds to direct the other Columbia comedians: Shemp Howard. Hugh Herbert, Andy Clyde, Gus Schilling and Richard Lane, Joe Besser, Curly Joe DeRita, Vera Vague, Wally Vernon and Eddie Quillan, Harry Von Zell, and Billie Burke, among others. Bernds also began directing the feature-length Blondie series of comedies with Penny Singleton and Arthur Lake.
When the Columbia shorts department downsized in 1952, Hugh McCollum was fired and Bernds voluntarily resigned, out of loyalty to McCollum.
In 1950 Bernds directed Gold Raiders, an independently produced comedy-western co-starring veteran cowboy star George O'Brien and The Three Stooges. This led to an assignment at the Allied Artists studio, directing action features starring Stanley Clements, which in turn led Bernds into Allied Artists' breadwinning series starring The Bowery Boys. Bernds directed Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, and company as though he was still working with the Stooges; the Bernds efforts in the series have the most slapstick content.
Bernds has the distinction of receiving an Oscar nomination by mistake. In 1956 the Academy nominated him and co-writer Elwood Ullman for the screen story to High Society. The Academy actually intended the nomination to be for the big-budget Frank Sinatra-Bing Crosby musical. Bernds and Ullman did make a film in 1955 called High Society — but theirs was a low-budget feature with The Bowery Boys. Graciously and voluntarily, Bernds and Ullman withdrew their nomination, though it still stands in the record books.
Bernds graduated to dramatic features in the late 1950s, although he was reunited with the Three Stooges in the 1960s for their feature films, and the live-action portions of their TV cartoons in The New 3 Stooges; due to their advancing age (Moe and Larry were in their 60s by this point) and the constraints of children's television, he was forced to tone down much of the slapstick. He and Ullman also collaborated on an Elvis Presley feature for Allied Artists, Tickle Me. His best-known work from this time period is arguably the 1959 horror film Return of the Fly. Bernds is also known for directing the cult classic science fiction films World Without End, Queen of Outer Space and Valley of the Dragons. Although Bernds had become a proficient all-around director, he confessed to enjoying his short-subject comedies more. Bernds retired in 1965.
Bernds's autobiography is "Mr. Bernds Goes to Hollywood," published in 1999. It details the earlier stages of his career, before he was a director. Bernds's directorial career is chronicled in "The Columbia Comedy Shorts," first published in 1986; Bernds wrote the foreword and is quoted throughout.
Outliving most of his peers, Edward Bernds died peacefully on May 20, 2000, in Van Nuys, California.
Calling Homicide is a 1956 American police drama film directed by Edward Bernds, which stars Bill Elliott, Don Haggerty, and Kathleen Case. The picture was the third of five films in the "Lt. Andy Doyle" series, all starring Elliott.Escape from Red Rock
Escape from Red Rock is a 1957 American Western film written and directed by Edward Bernds. The film stars Brian Donlevy, Eilene Janssen, Gary Murray, Jay C. Flippen, William Edward Phipps and Myron Healey. The film was released in December 1957, by 20th Century Fox.Hot News (1953 film)
Hot News is a 1953 American crime film directed by Edward Bernds and starring Stanley Clements, Gloria Henry and Ted de Corsia. An ex-boxer now working as a sportswriter goes after a gambling syndicate attempting to control the fight game.Loose in London
Loose in London is a 1953 comedy film starring The Bowery Boys. The film was released on May 24, 1953 by Allied Artists and is the thirtieth film in the series.Navy Wife
Navy Wife is a 1956 comedy film directed by Edward Bernds (who also directed "Three Stooges" and "Bowery Boys"), and starring Joan Bennett, Gary Merrill, Shirley Yamaguchi. The screenplay was written by Kay Lenard, based on the novel Mother Sir by Tats Blain. The film was produced by Walter Wanger, who was Bennett's husband in real life.Punchy Cowpunchers
Punchy Cowpunchers, released by Columbia Pictures in 1950, is the 120th short film starring American slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges (Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Shemp Howard). The comedians released 190 short films for the studio between 1934 and 1959.Quantrill's Raiders (film)
Quantrill's Raiders is a 1958 American Western film about Quantrill's Raiders. It was directed by Edward Bernds.Queen of Outer Space
Queen of Outer Space is a 1958 American color science fiction feature film in CinemaScope, produced by Ben Schwalb, directed by Edward Bernds, that stars Zsa Zsa Gabor, Eric Fleming, and Laurie Mitchell. The screenplay by Charles Beaumont, about a revolt against a cruel Venusian queen, was based on an idea supplied by Ben Hecht, originally titled Queen of the Universe. The film was released theatrically in some markets on a double feature with the Boris Karloff film Frankenstein 1970.Return of the Fly
Return of the Fly is the first sequel to the horror film The Fly (1958). It was released in 1959 as a double feature with The Alligator People. It was directed by Edward Bernds. Unlike the previous film, Return of the Fly was shot in black and white.
Vincent Price was the only returning cast member from the original. It was intended that Herbert Marshall reprise his role as the police inspector, but due to illness he was replaced by John Sutton.The film was followed by a third sequel, Curse of the Fly (1965).Squareheads of the Round Table
Squareheads of the Round Table is a 1948 film directed by Edward Bernds and starring American slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges (Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Shemp Howard). It is the 106th short film released by Columbia Pictures starring the comedians, who released 190 short films for the studio between 1934 and 1959.Studio Stoops
Studio Stoops is a 1950 short film directed by Edward Bernds and starring the American slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges (Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Shemp Howard. It was the 126th short film released by Columbia Pictures starring the comedians, who released 190 short films for the studio between 1934 and 1959.The Storm Rider
The Storm Rider is a 1957 American Western film directed by Edward Bernds, written by Edward Bernds and Don Martin, and starring Scott Brady, Mala Powers, Bill Williams, John Goddard, William Fawcett and Roy Engel. It is based on the short story "Longrider Jones" by L. L. Foreman, from the book Rider's West. The film was released in March 1957, by 20th Century Fox.The Three Stooges Meet Hercules
The Three Stooges Meet Hercules is a 1962 comedy film directed by Edward Bernds. It is the third feature film to star the Three Stooges after their 1959 resurgence in popularity. By this time, the trio consisted of Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and Joe DeRita (dubbed "Curly Joe"). Released by Columbia Pictures, The Three Stooges Meet Hercules was directed by long-time Stooge director Edward Bernds. It was the most financially successful of the Stooges' feature films.The Three Stooges in Orbit
The Three Stooges In Orbit is a 1962 comedy film directed by Edward Bernds. It is the fourth feature film to star the Three Stooges after their 1959 resurgence in popularity. By this time, the trio consisted of Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and Joe DeRita (dubbed "Curly Joe"). Released by Columbia Pictures and produced by Normandy Productions, The Three Stooges In Orbit was directed by long-time Stooge director Edward Bernds, who Moe later cited as the team's finest director.The Three Troubledoers
The Three Troubledoers is a 1946 film directed by Edward Bernds and starring American slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges (Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and Curly Howard). It is the 91st short film released by Columbia Pictures starring the comedians, who released 190 short films for the studio between 1934 and 1959.Three Little Pirates
Three Little Pirates is a 1946 film directed by Edward Bernds and starring American slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges (Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Curly Howard). It is the 96th short film released by Columbia Pictures starring the comedians, who released 190 short films for the studio between 1934 and 1959. It was known as Curly's final full-length performance as a stooge; due to deteriorating health.Vagabond Loafers
Vagabond Loafers is a 1949 film directed by Edward Bernds and starring American slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges (Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Shemp Howard). It is the 118th short film released by Columbia Pictures starring the comedians, who released 190 short films for the studio between 1934 and 1959.Valley of the Dragons (1961 film)
Valley of the Dragons (UK title: Prehistoric Valley) is a black and white 1961 American science fiction film loosely based on Jules Verne's Off on a Comet and heavily dependent on stock footage from the movies One Million B.C., King Dinosaur, Cat-Women of the Moon and Rodan. Director Edward Bernds says the film was built around stock footage from One Million B.C.White Lightning (1953 film)
White Lightning is a 1953 film directed by Edward Bernds, starring Stanley Clements, Barbara Bestar and Steve Brodie. The film also features a young Lee Van Cleef in an early role.