The eldest of three children, Bernsen was born in North Hollywood to a producer father and actress mother. He earned his Master's in Playwriting from UCLA's Theater Arts Department, later receiving a Drama-Logue Award for his scenic design of the Pilot Theater production of "Amercian Buffalo." After moving to New York and appearing in the off-Broadway production of "Lone Star" and a touring company of "Plaza Suite," he became a regular for two years on the daytime drama "Ryan's Hope."
Roles in Blake Edwards' "S.O.B.," "King Kong" and "Eat My Dust," in addition to guest starring credits on a number of episodic mainstays, prompted an exclusive deal with NBC, which led to his role as Arnie Becker, the shrewd and handsome divorce attorney on "L.A. Law."
"L.A. Law" catapulted Bernsen to overnight stardom. During the late 80's and early 90's he appeared on over 50 magazine covers and earned both Emmy and Golden Globe nominations, hosted "Saturday Night Live," and appeared on "Seinfeld" and "The Larry Sanders Show." In the feature film arena, he starred in the motion picture comedy "Hello Again," followed by other critically acclaimed roles in "Disorganized Crime," Wolfgang Peterson's "Shattered," and as Cleveland Indians third baseman-turned-owner Roger Dorn in the extremely popular "Major League" series of films. Other film credits include "Tales From the Hood" and "Great White Hype."
Bernsen has also starred in an impressive string of films for television, ranging from playing the role of civil rights lawyer Morris Dees in the NBC telefilm "Line of Fire: The Morris Dees Story," to a gumshoe ghost in the lighthearted NBC mystery romance "Love Can Be Murder" with Jaclyn Smith. Other telefilm roles include "Full Circle," "Riddler's Moon," "The Dentist," "The Dentist II," "Two of Hearts" and USA Network's "Call Me: The Rise and Fall of Heidi Fleiss."
Most recently, Bernsen appeared with Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer in the film "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang."
Bernsen makes his home in Los Angeles with his wife, actress Amanda Pays, and their four sons.