Comedy Vet Takes Love Seriously

Crystal Bernard photo

From: The Charlotte Observer 12/7/2005
By: Luaine Lee

PASADENA, Calif. - -- Actress Crystal Bernard has it backward. She's always a bride and never a bridesmaid -- at least on TV. Bernard, toothsome veteran of "Wings," "It's a Living" and "Happy Days," has been a bride eight times on television. But never in real life.

Her next tussle with something-borrowed-something-blue will be Dec. 17, when she stars as the fiancee of young Nick Claus, who is following in his father's footsteps as gift-giver to the world.

Not an easy task, it turns out, when their nuptials are taking place Christmas Eve. "Meet the Santas" is the sequel to Hallmark Channel's highest-rated original movie: "Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus," which will air again on Saturday.

As for Bernard, though she's been what she calls "desperately in love" she's never walked down that aisle. "One reason is it seems to be sort of a legal contract rather than a commitment," she says.

But she's experiencing a powerful sense of commitment with her current boyfriend, music mixer Michael Shipley. "We're together because we really get along," she says, stressing "really" with her slight Texas accent.

"He's so there for me, and I would do anything for him. I see myself behaving better and more giving."

A former relationship was something out of "True Romance," she says. "Talk about soul mates -- everything in the books, and the white horse, and all. It was killing me. it was so fantastic. The greatest love story of all time. Of course, it was false ."

She concludes there are disadvantages to dating actors. "We actors have to be conscious of ourselves; there's vanity involved. There's a competitiveness. There's something that's not appealing to me about myself that I try to get away from. I'm constantly trying. To see that in others, that doesn't feel like home to me."

Though she's seemingly gregarious, Bernard confesses she's a closet introvert. "I'm so private, almost bizarrely private. There's a fear that always goes on inside -- I don't know what it is. It's not dishonesty. I'll tell you anything you want to know.

"There's just a part of me that's introverted. The time between `action' and `cut' seems like the only time that I'm free, because anything can come out."

Throughout school Bernard suffered a profound sense of isolation. "I was head cheerleader -- most beautiful, most popular. I won all the stuff. But I campaigned. I made straight A's. Yet I had attention deficit disorder. Everything I did, I would try to study and couldn't, so I would do these amazing extra credit projects -- show how sound was made on records -- I'm amazed I did those things. All this in order to make straight A's," she says.

Still, when it came to performing, Bernard was no wallflower. She snagged her first professional gig by barging into modeling agent Nina Blanchard's office after everyone else had gone home.

She copped the role in "Wings" by telling NBC prexy Brandon Tartikoff what was wrong with the way her character was written.

Becoming friends with Ginger Rogers and Debbie Reynolds taught Bernard there's more to life than work.

She's still working on that, she says, through therapy and reading. "I knew that I did not want to be a statistic, that I wanted happiness within, and I wanted to be present because I knew what a great mover I was. I could move things and make things happen.

"But then when you come home, you either have to watch `The X-Files' and numb out or what is there for you?"