Shine the Spotlight on "Bald & Better" Actor Corbin Bernsen


Corbin Bernsen - Shine the Spotlight on "Bald & Better" Actor Corbin Bernsen


Corbin Bernsen first came to prominence as Arnie Becker, the hotshot pretty-boy lawyer on the 1980s television program “L.A. Law.” The series quickly became the “water cooler show” of the period, a “can’t miss” appointment that millions kept with their TV sets on Thursday nights – and, especially for the women, Bernsen was a major factor in its phenomenal popularity.

Men liked Bernsen’s character, too; not in the same way as women, but they enjoyed his antics and especially admired his winning streak with the opposite sex. One of “L.A. Law’s” running gags centered around Becker’s incredible luck in getting anyone he desired into the sack, and what guy doesn’t dream of that? But that was actually a bit of a problem: Most guys just dream about the kind of 100% track record Becker enjoyed. Finding such success lacking, a lot of male viewers harbored some resentment toward Becker.

They would probably have resented him even more had an actor other than Corbin Bernsen been playing the part. For instance, imagine fellow “L.A. Law”-yer Harry Hamlin taking on the role of Becker. Few guys could stand to witness that combination for more than 10 minutes. The smugness factor would be overwhelming.

The casting of Bernsen helped to mitigate any smugness, even when the character on the surface was acting cocky. Whether it was by coincidence or design, with Bernsen you got the impression that Arnie Becker was always afraid that he was going to be found out, that someone was going to discover that Becker wasn’t really the dreamboat that all the women thought he was.

Corbin seemed uncomfortable with his hair loss condition

And I think and have always thought that the reason was obvious: Corbin Bernsen wasn’t comfortable with his hair.

You can see it in many of his moves. Bernsen’s hair was already noticeably receding when “L.A. Law” premiered in 1986. The character of Becker fretted about possible hair loss in several episodes, and Bernsen played those scenes very well. But it was the unconscious, spontaneous “hair concern” moments that the actor brought to the role that added a subtle, convincing sense of vulnerability to the character.

Bernsen stayed with “L.A. Law” for its entire eight season run, but though he found new depths and nuances as each season progressed, it also seemed that the actor grew somewhat tired of the character’s “Red Hot Romeo” reputation.

After “L.A. Law” went off the air in 1994, Bernsen appeared as a guest star on several series and appeared in a few movies. But it wasn’t until 2004 that Bernsen made a substantial return via recurring appearances on the classic soap opera “General Hospital” and a role in the short-lived UPN sitcom “Cuts.”

He’d been out of the spotlight for a while, but the return was worth the wait. Because the Bernsen that reappeared was different. He was more confident. He was more assured. He had, even in frivolous vehicles, a power and a gravity to him that Arnie Becker had lacked.
And he was bald.

Good, bald and sexier than ever

Not just receding. Not just “going.” Good and bald. And sexier than ever.

Arnie Becker was always a lightweight. He was a good guy, but despite being in decent shape, you always had the feeling a strong breeze would blow him away.

The new Corbin Bernsen is anything but. He’s heftier now – not fatter, but not really bulked up either. He seems like a guy who is finally filling the space that he’s meant to fill physically. And this newfound physicality would somehow be diminished by hair.

Or IS diminished, actually. Currently, Bernsen has a regular role on “Psych,” the USA Network series about a detective who claims to use psychic abilities to solve crimes. Bernsen plays the father of the so-called psychic, and because the series uses extensive flashbacks to circa 1987, we get to see Bernsen both with a rug and au naturel (in the hair department).

The difference is amazing. The man still looks handsome in the flashbacks, still has power and authority. But it’s nothing compared to what he has in the present, toupee-less scenes.

To be clear, what we’re talking about here is not the power and authority of the character, Henry Spencer. It’s not the force that the character displays when, say, he loses his temper at his son, as he does with amusing regularity.

It’s the power and authority of an actor whose age, physical appearance and comfort level have all come together. Corbin Bernsen, actor, is at an apex, totally at home in his skin. And that includes the skin that gloriously, proudly shines forth from the top of his head.

Bernsen was always good. Now, comfortable with his own natural looks, he’s better than ever.