Family & Companions
Valerie Bertinelli began acting as a child, literally growing up on American television screens well into middle-aged adulthood. The petite Bertinelli cut a fresh-faced, smart-alecky presence on Norman Lear's CBS sitcom, "One Day at a Time" (1975-1984), a persona that evolved along with her public young marriage to hard rocking guitarist Eddie Van Halen. Moving into an eclectic mix of television movies, miniseries and series, including the popular family drama "Touched by an Angel" (CBS, 1994-2003), Bertinelli juggled home and work life; all the while remaining a fond presence in the consciousness of viewers.
Valerie Anne Bertinelli was born on April 23, 1960 in Wilmington, DE. Her father worked as a General Motors executive; her mother was a homemaker. Bertinelli spent the first several years of her life in Claymont, DE before the family - which included three brothers - shuffled across the United States. After settling in Clarkston, MI, the Bertinelli family ended up in the Van Nuys suburb of Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley by the time she was 11. With her mother's approval, Bertinelli studied acting at the Tami Lynn School of Artists and promptly landed a commercial.
Bertinelli's television series career began with a guest appearance as a young Iowan girl on the CBS drama series, "Apple's Way" (1974-75). Shortly after that, she beat out a slew of contenders for the role of the sweet-natured Barbara Cooper - the teenage daughter of fiercely independent divorcee Ann Romano (Bonnie Franklin) and sister of Mackenzie Phillips' wild child Julie Cooper on "One Day at a Time." The CBS series, which followed producer Norman Lear's penchant for mixing comedy and relevant social commentary, took off and made Bertinelli an instant celebrity, gracing the covers of People and Us Weekly, along with her fictional family. She also met her first major boyfriend, actor Scott Colomby, who occasionally had a recurring role as Cliff starting in season two. The pair started dating by 1978, but Colomby ended the relationship barely two years later.
Quick success opened up other creative opportunities for Bertinelli, mainly building off of her wholesome image. The CBS TV movie "Young Love, First Love" (1979) focused on a girl's ambivalence about the possibility of making love for the first time. That year, she appeared in the Hanna-Barbera-produced family comedy, "C.H.O.M.P.S.," in which her character attempted to help thwart a corporate theft of her inventor boyfriend's robotic security dog. By 1980, Bertinelli had auditioned for a role in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981) and briefly become involved with its director, Steven Spielberg, but a two-month-long romance ended amidst the pair's sense of incompatibility.
Though Bertinelli did not land the "Raiders" job, she was still a favorite with CBS - for which she entered the made-for-TV movie genre with "The Promise of Love" (1980), in which she expanded into dramatic territory as the young widow of a Vietnam veteran killed in action, before moving on to "The Princess and the Cabbie" (1981), a light-hearted drama about a girl who discovers she's dyslexic and sets out to conquer the disorder with help from a teacher/part-time cab driver. As "One Day at a Time" entered into its fifth season, there were drastic changes. Mackenzie Phillips' ongoing drug use led to a subsequent dismissal from the show in 1980, from which she briefly returned a year later, but Bertinelli was shielded from the on-set drama. Towards the end of 1981, she was in her family's then-hometown of Shreveport, LA when she and her younger brother ended up at a local arena concert for L.A. rockers, Van Halen. Bertinelli ended up backstage and had a conversation with its shy, enigmatic guitar player, Edward Van Halen. The two were surprised by their shared sensibilities and began dating, despite the public perception that the rock star was corrupting the innocent.
1981 proved to be a banner year for the actress. Though Van Halen's party-hearty image and Bertinelli's good-girl reputation prompted the press' ongoing predictions about the end of the relationship, eight months after meeting, the couple married. Her sitcom work was also recognized during awards season that year, netting her a Young Artist Award nomination. In 1982, she shared a Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe Award with Diane Ladd of "Alice" (1976-1985) - an award she was nominated for again the following year. With the series hitting the far side of a decade, Bertinelli's onscreen character entered into her 20s, got married and even faced difficult issues of fertility. It was a process that allowed both actress and character to shed some perceptions and broaden others as "One Day at a Time" ended its run in 1984. At the start of the year, Bertinelli was ready to take some chances, playing an addicted Nevada gambler in CBS' "The Seduction of Gina" (1984), for which Edward Van Halen contributed music.
With her role as a young nun in love with a priest in NBC's movie-of-the-week, "Shattered Vows" (1984), Bertinelli finally felt more like an established actress than a media sensation. Though life with Van Halen - who had well-publicized bouts with alcohol - was tough at times, she found a bit of personal relief in her personal life as well, as Van Halen's lead singer David Lee Roth, with whom she and her husband had often had acrimonious dealings, had quit the band. With little interest in racy acting scenes, she had previously eschewed prominent roles in hit films such as "The Big Chill" (1983) and "Footloose" (1984), but by the mid 1980s, still longed to move into feature film work, co-starring in two small features - the war veteran drama "Ordinary Heroes" (1986) and a police corruption thriller "Number One With a Bullet" (1987). As both underperformed, she moved permanently back to television.
In 1987, Bertinelli suffered a miscarriage as she and Van Halen were attempting to start a family. After the experience, she returned to work, playing the magazine heir "Maxi" Amberville of the CBS miniseries, "I'll Take Manhattan" (1987), before taking flight in the network's period piece, "Pancho Barnes" (1988), starring as the titular 1920s pilot. Series work beckoned again and she anchored the CBS drama "Sydney" (1990). Going against type, the actress starred as rough-and-tumble L.A. detective Sydney Kells, but audiences were not hooked enough to keep it on the air beyond a 13-episode run. Bertinelli and Van Halen were able to focus once again on family life and had a son, Wolfgang in 1991.
By the time Bertinelli was back on television, she had resumed her steady diet of TV series and movies. Most notable was the Golden Globe-nominated TV miniseries adaptation of Peter Maas' novel, "In a Child's Name" (1991), in which Bertinelli played a woman fighting for custody of her murdered sister's child. With NBC's "Cafe Americain" (1993-94), she hearkened back to her sitcom roots as an American living as a café worker in Paris, with the requisite cultural misunderstandings. But at the start of 1994, her fall entry was gone from the network lineup. A subsequent run of small screen movies, highlighted by her turn as a pregnant pro-lifer in the abortion drama, "A Case for Life" (1996) on ABC, was capped off with the CBS miniseries "Night Sins" (1997), in which she portrayed a detective investigating a small town's child abduction case.
After such a successful long-term television run, Bertinelli took a few years off to focus on her home life, taking work sparingly. At the start of 2001, she became a regular on the popular CBS family pseudo-religious series, "Touched by an Angel," starring as the newly-created angel Gloria. Later that year, while she was living in Utah for the series production, she and Van Halen separated; his constant battles with alcohol having taken their toll on the marriage. The event was made public a year later after his remission from mouth cancer. "Angel" ended in 2003 and the couple formally announced their divorce in late 2005. By the middle of 2007, she had started over fresh. Bertinelli's famous face was all over the television airwaves as a celebrity spokeswoman for the Jenny Craig weight loss program. Submitting to a public regimen prescribed by its well-known reputation, she opted for her own minor makeover while gearing up for roles a little more fictional.
Cast (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Made early TV appearances on the CBS drama series, "Apple's Way"
Played Barbara Cooper (later Barbara Cooper Royer) on the popular CBS sitcom, "One Day at a Time"; nominated at the Golden Globe Awards for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV (1983), nominated with Mackenzie Phillips at the TV Land Awards for Favorite Singing Siblings (2005)
Played first dramatic leading role on TV, in the CBS hour-long special, "The Secret of Charles Dickens"
Essayed leading role in the feature film, "C.H.O.M.P.S."
Returned to feature films to play one of the leads in "Number One with a Bullet"
Starred as Maxi Amberville in the four-part CBS miniseries, "I'll Take Manhattan", based on the Judith Krantz novel
Played title role in short-lived CBS sitcom, "Sydney", featuring theme music by her husband, Eddie Van Halen
Starred in the CBS miniseries "In a Child's Name", as a woman fighting for custody of her nephew
Portrayed a lesbian struggling to retain custody of her child in the TV-movie "Two Mothers For Zachary" (ABC)
Cast as an investigative agent looking into the disappearance of a child in the CBS miniseries "Night Sins"
Returned to series TV, joining the cast of the long-running "Touched By an Angel" (CBS) in spring
Played herself in the dark comedy "Saved!" starring Jena Malone
Won in the category Lady You Love to Watch Fight for Her Life in a Movie of the Week at the TV Land Awards
Co-starred opposite Joanna "JoJo" Levesque in Lifetime's "True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet"
Co-starred in TV Land's ensemble comedy "Hot in Cleveland" opposite Jane Leeves, Wendie Malick, and Betty White