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Bernstein was born in Paris. His earliest plays, including La Rafale (1905), Le Voleur (1907), Samson (1908), Israël (1908), and Le Secret (1913), are written in a realistic style and powerfully depict harsh realities of modern life and society.
The far-right royalist Camelots du Roi youth organization of the Action française organized an anti-Semitic riot against a production of one of his plays in 1911. During the Second World War, he fled to the United States and lived in New York City at the Waldorf Astoria. Jean-Pierre Aumont relates in his work Le Soleil et les Ombres (Robert Laffont, 1976) the luxury in which he lived, as well as his general lack of interest in the war.
He is buried in the Cimetière de Passy in Paris.