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From Jenny Craig to Hot in Cleveland: The Second Coming of Valerie Bertinelli

Updated on October 16, 2010

One Day at a Time


It all started on December 16th, 1975. On that date, a new television series aired for the first time on the CBS Television Network named ‘One Day at a Time.’ In this comedy/drama Bonnie Franklin played Ann Romano, a divorced woman raising her two teenage daughters. One of those daughters was Barbara Cooper, portrayed by fifteen year-old Valerie Bertinelli. Barbara Cooper was originally written as a tomboy; the first images of Bertilleni in the opening credits showed her awkwardly dribbling a basketball as the family moved into their new apartment. The tomboy aspect of Barbara’s nature was soon ignored, in keeping with Bertinelli’s demure nature. The show was a hit and ran for nine years.

Flash forward to August 18th, 2010. A fifty year-old Valerie appeared in the season finale of her new TV Land television series, ‘Hot in Cleveland.’ The show teamed Bertinelli with television legend Betty White and was successful enough to be picked up for a second season. Bertinelli worked steadily after One Day at a Time ended its run, but her career never retained its early momentum. It wasn’t until she appeared in a television commercial with Kirstie Alley in 2007 as a spokesperson for the Jenny Craig weight loss program that America truly rediscovered Ms. Bertinelli.

How did Valerie Bertinelli reinvent herself?


One Day at a Time

Valerie Bertinelli and changes

Barbara Cooper on 'One Day at a Time'
Barbara Cooper on 'One Day at a Time'
Wife to rock star Eddie Van Halen
Wife to rock star Eddie Van Halen
Overweight and lacking confidence on 'Touched by an Angel'
Overweight and lacking confidence on 'Touched by an Angel'

The dark years


Despite instant celebrity as a teen star on ‘One Day at a Time,’ things weren’t easy for Ms. Bertinelli. A co-star on their show was Mackenzie Phillips, who proved an able and willing guide for Bertinelli’s education about the drug culture. Bertinelli had already smoked marijuana and taken diet pills to control her weight; fortunately, a front row view of Phillips’ substance abuse problems frightened Valerie. Her drug use was casual and never an issue. Valerie and Mackenzie had other things in common as they vied for the attention of male guest stars on the show, including ‘Star Wars’ star Mark Hamill and Robby Benson. Valerie also briefly dated Paul Shaffer, who made his mark on ‘Saturday Night Live’ before finding a home as bandleader for David Letterman’s show. Eventually she met Van Halen’s lead guitarist, Eddie Van Halen and became the bride of a rock star at the tender age of twenty.

‘One Day at a Time’ ended in 1984, and Valerie Bertinelli seemed slightly lost. She followed Van Halen on tour and auditioned for roles in movies like ‘The Big Chill,’ ‘Footloose’ and ‘Adventures in Babysitting.’ Valerie became pregnant and seemed happy with a life as a wife and mother, but the desire to work in films remained strong. Unable to land a role in a major Hollywood film, she found a niche in made-for-television movies that did little to stretch her as an actress. Every year saw Valerie Bertinelli in another TV movie, each one more forgettable than the last. Even a role on the hit series ‘Touched by an Angel’ did not revitalize her Hollywood career. The combination of her work as an actress and rock star lifestyle seemed to take its toll. The cute, charming girl who played Barbara Cooper seemed troubled and sad as an adult. There were extra-marital affairs, rumors of drug use and most noticeably—Valerie gained weight. The extra pounds chipped away at her self-esteem, and despite Valerie’s public persona she seemed to retreat into a life of anonymity. She filed for divorce from Eddie Van Halen in 2005.


From People Magazine to Hot in Cleveland

Trading recipes with buddy Rachael Ray
Trading recipes with buddy Rachael Ray
Ready to get slim
Ready to get slim
50 pounds lighter
50 pounds lighter
And finally, Hot in Cleveland
And finally, Hot in Cleveland

I'm fat


The beginnings of her reemergence were gradual; it would have been easy to miss the signs. She made frequent appearances on the ‘Rachael Ray Show’ in 2006, usually wearing bulky and unflattering outfits. Her friendship with Ray seemed sincere and their relaxed onscreen banter reminded everyone of the Valerie Bertinelli from ‘One Day at a Time’ that captivated America with her shy, girl-next-door appeal. It was as if stripping away the rocker wife persona allowed the real Valerie to assert herself. She compared recipes and joked on-air with Rachael Ray while preparing herself mentally for what was to come next.

Meanwhile, Valerie was making a decision.  She had battled with gaining weight for years, and finally decided she needed to make her struggles public.  She reasoned that losing weight in the public eye would serve to hold her accountable.  It was a calculated risk—failing to lose weight or keep it off would severely diminish her career.

On April 4th, 2007 People Magazine appeared on the racks with a smiling Bertinelli on its cover, vowing she was reading to get slim. She signed on as a Jenny Craig spokesperson and agreed to film a new commercial each month, many of them with actress Kirstie Alley. With each new ad, a thinner Valerie extolled the virtues of her weight loss program and asked, “Have you called Jenny yet?” It was classic Valerie.

As the pounds melted away her confidence grew. In 2008 Bertinelli authored a book entitled ‘Losing It (and Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time).’ The book at first glance seemed to be a chronicle of her struggles with weight loss, but it was more about Eddie Van Halen than Jenny Craig. Perhaps she needed to find closure with that aspect of her life before moving on once and for all.

Less than two years after appearing on the cover of People Magazine, she was back—this time 50 pounds lighter. On March 25, 2009 Valerie Bertinelli once again appeared on the cover of People Magazine in a green bikini. A commercial with Valerie again in a bikini followed days later. Slim and confident, her transformation was complete.


Hot in Cleveland


Valerie Bertinelli didn’t rest on her laurels after her amazing weight loss. A second book followed, this time talking at length about the challenge of losing more than 50 pounds using the Jenny Craig program. It was titled ‘Finding It (And Satisfying My Hunger for Life Without Opening the Fridge).’ Her change was so dramatic she didn’t see the need to document it with photographs in her new book. She had nothing left to prove to anyone. A workout DVD soon followed titled ‘Valerie Bertinelli: Losing It and Keeping Fit!’ She exercised on the talk show circuit to promote her DVD, demonstrating the cheerful demeanor that had been absent since her days as Barbara Cooper.

She still wasn’t finished. In 2010 she teamed with Jane Leeves, Wendie Malick and the incomparable Betty White in the TV Land sitcom, ‘Hot in Cleveland.’ This 21st century ‘Golden Girls’ follows three women in the midst of rebuilding their lives who meet on an airplane bound for Paris. A forced plane landing places them in Cleveland where they rent a house cared for by Elke (White). On August 18th, the final episode of the season concluded with a cliffhanger ending, promising at least one more season of ‘Hot in Cleveland.’ The show is captivating and each episode has some genuinely amusing moments. It might not rank with classic sitcoms of the past, but it is as good as many shows currently on television and has nothing to be ashamed of.

She continued to encourage us to lose weight, appearing in a series of delightful commercials with Jason Alexander. She remains connected with her son Wolfgang, who joined Van Halen and plays guitar on tour with the band. She publicly supported Mackenzie Phillips when her own book came out with details of a difficult and traumatic childhood.

Valerie Bertinelli at 50 years old is everything we hoped she would be when she dribbled a basketball into our lives 35 years ago. She is beautiful, confident and successful. She seems grateful for her successes, far different from her peers in Hollywood who act as if fame and fortune are due them. She seems real. She is definitely hot—

--in Cleveland, and everywhere else.


Learn more about Valerie Bertinelli with products from Amazon.com

Jenny Craig products from Amazon.com

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    • Mike Lickteig profile image
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      Mike Lickteig 2 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      Hot in Cleveland is still on television and Valerie Bertinelli is still doing well. It is nice to see how well she has done.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 4 years ago from Long Island, NY

      I remember watching One Day At A Time back in the 70s. Valerie Bertinelli was my favorite. I really enjoyed reading your hub and finding out how her life has been since then. I had seen her on those ads you mentioned. And also in Hot In Cleveland. I didn't know about her struggles until I read your hub. Very interesting and well-written. Voted up.

    • Mike Lickteig profile image
      Author

      Mike Lickteig 7 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      Sabre, thanks for reading. We agree on both counts: Hot in Cleveland is a terrific show, and Valerie Bertinelli is adorable, no matter her age or weight. Thanks again.

      Mike

    • sabrebIade profile image

      sabrebIade 7 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I love Valerie and I LOVE Hot in Cleveland.

      Great Hub!

    • Mike Lickteig profile image
      Author

      Mike Lickteig 7 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      Katie, thanks for reading. I've always been impressed by Valerie Bertinelli. She seems so genuine and so gentle. She appeared on the Rachael Ray show and took some kids out to buy Christmas presents for a single father, and helped the father buy gifts for the kids, as well. It was so touching and it just made her seems so kind. Thanks again for stopping by, I appreciate your comments a great deal.

      Mike

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 7 years ago from I'm outta here

      Mike, What a nice tribute to Valerie Bertinelli. I've always been impressed with her kind and gentle air. You could confidently guess she's a good person. I appreciate your collection of facts and interesting details about Valerie.

    • Mike Lickteig profile image
      Author

      Mike Lickteig 7 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      Rebecca, thanks for stopping by. I found her books to be very inspiring, as well. She admits her mistakes easily, and that makes her just that much easier to relate to. Her attitudes seem real and human, and her success seems well-deserved. Thanks again for reading.

      Mike

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 7 years ago from Canada

      that woman is something else, and her work is great, but as a writer I must say her books are inspiring.

    • Mike Lickteig profile image
      Author

      Mike Lickteig 7 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      Jimmy, thanks for stopping by. I wished Kirstie Alley had managed to hang in there, also. I always liked her also, from her early appearance in "Star Trek II: the Wrath of Khan" to her time on Cheers. I hope she can make something positive happen for herself. Thanks again.

      Mike

    • Mike Lickteig profile image
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      Mike Lickteig 7 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      jenniferangs, thanks for reading. Valerie Bertinelli does look really happy now, and I can't think of anyone in Hollywood more deserving. Thanks again for reading. Stop by anytime.

      Mike

    • Jimmy Jones profile image

      Jimmy Jones 7 years ago from Hear and oh yeah...i'm here too!

      She really does look great. I wish Kirstie Alley had made it. I was always in love with that girl. Her little TV show of late gave me hope for a while.

      Nice Hub, JJ :)

    • profile image

      jenniferangs 7 years ago

      I wondered what happened to some of those TV stars from the past.Thanks! I'm glad to see she now looks well and happy.

    • Mike Lickteig profile image
      Author

      Mike Lickteig 7 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      Eventsyoudesign, thanks for reading. I appreciate your kind words and hope you will be encouraged to read more of my work. HubPages is a great site and I think you will enjoy your time here very much. Thanks again.

      Mike

    • eventsyoudesign profile image

      eventsyoudesign 7 years ago from Nashville, Tennessee

      I am new to hub pages. I stumbled upon this article. I really enjoyed reading it and I am ready to read your other articles as well. I like your style of writing as it is easy to follow and understand. Thanks for sharing.

      Teresa

    • Mike Lickteig profile image
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      Mike Lickteig 7 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      Artoflegendindia, thanks for reading. I'm glad you liked my article on Valerie Bertinelli, and hope you will stop by again sometime. Thanks again.

      Mike

    • profile image

      Artoflegendindia 7 years ago

      Nice hub.I didn't see One day at a time show.

    • Mike Lickteig profile image
      Author

      Mike Lickteig 7 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      Hi, Cosette! Nice to see your comments here. I agree with you completely--Valerie Bertinelli has always been beautiful inside and out, and age has not diminished her charm. Thanks so much for your comments, I appreciate them a great deal. Take care.

      Mike

    • profile image

      cosette 7 years ago

      Valerie Bertinelli will always be one of the beauties of tv land no matter how old she gets. she has a genuine warmth and sweetness about her that you just can't ignore. thank you for this tribute to her.

    • Mike Lickteig profile image
      Author

      Mike Lickteig 7 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      Valerie, thanks for reading. I liked One Day at a Time, as well. As you noted, they addressed a variety of social issues and made the viewer think--an amazing feat for a half-hour comedy. Valerie Bertinelli was wonderful in the show, and it is nice to see her continue the success she knew then.

      Thanks again, Valerie. I appreciate your stopping by.

      Mike

    • ValerieH profile image

      ValerieH 7 years ago

      Love this hub and I love Valerie always have. One Day At A Time has always been one of my favorite shows cuz they talked about so many different issues. good job.

    • Mike Lickteig profile image
      Author

      Mike Lickteig 7 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      MPG, thanks for stopping by. You're right, Hot in Cleveland is a good show and Valerie Bertinelli is very deserving of her success. The creators of Hot in Cleveland did well by adding Betty White to the cast--she is hysterically funny.

      Thanks again for stopping by--come back any time.

      Mike

    • MPG Narratives profile image

      Marie Giunta 7 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Hot In Cleveland is a good show, it only just started down here in Oz. I'll watch anything with Betty White anyway.

      Valerie is great in this show and I wish her well, she's had it tough, now is her time to shine.

      Good hub Mike, enjoyable read.

    • Mike Lickteig profile image
      Author

      Mike Lickteig 7 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      Hi, Voice! The paparazzi did indeed miss their chance--I know for a fact that the American people are wanting to know why I haven't made the cover of People magazine yet. They are demanding answers!

      And on that note, I hope you have a glamorous evening yourself. Take care.

      Mike

    • profile image

      Just A Voice 7 years ago

      Stupid paparazzi missed their chance!

      Cheers to us fabulous middle-agers :)

      Have a glamous evening...or at least a really comfortable one.

    • Mike Lickteig profile image
      Author

      Mike Lickteig 7 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      Hi, Voice, thanks for reading. I will admit that being skinny isn't the most important thing to me. Where Valerie Bertinelli is concerned, I thought she looked terrific before she lost the weight, but I still applaud her for her effort and tenacity.

      As for me, well...I've been known to indulge in a cheeseburger or two once in awhile, as well. I look overweight if I compare myself to the way I looked as a 25 year old, but I don't think I look too bad for my current age.

      The paparazzi don't follow me around, either. I even gave 'em a call to tell them where I would be..................

      Thanks for reading, I enjoyed your comments--as always.

      Mike

    • profile image

      Just A Voice 7 years ago

      Ok...she does look fabulous at 48. And yes, I am a tad jealous of that fact, if truth be known.

      BUT...I have decided that since the paparazzi doesn't follow me around for any reason...and the fact that I love my wine and cheese burgers...I'm going to be okay with my body at this time and place.

      Maybe one of these days I will feel the need to get down to my size 3 teenage years. But for now, the slightly chunky size 7/9 will work for me.

      After all, I get to drink wine and eat cheese burgers...how could this be bad?!!

      Hell, being this close to grandma age I think I'm doing pretty good!

    • Mike Lickteig profile image
      Author

      Mike Lickteig 7 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      Hi, Maita. Thanks for reading. I am amazed at how Valerie Bertinelli went from being virtually unnoticed in Hollywood to her success with Jenny Craig, a workout DVD, and now a new television series. Shed did a wonderful job of reinventing herself while staying true to her character. And yes, she is very hot. I've thought she was beautiful ever since she was on 'One Day at a Time.'

      Thanks again for your comments. Hope you have a great weekend.

      Mike

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Oh, success story, amazing isn't it? It is really fascinating to watch how she reinvented herself, and yes she is hot! Thanks again for the nice introduction and story about her. Maita

    • Mike Lickteig profile image
      Author

      Mike Lickteig 7 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      Polly, thanks for reading. I have really enjoyed her on Hot in Cleveland, and I am glad the show will be back for a second season. It has been fun to watch, and all the characters are great. Valerie Bertinelli does so well in this, and I am glad she is back on TV.

      Thanks again, and have a great weekend.

      Mike

    • Mike Lickteig profile image
      Author

      Mike Lickteig 7 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      Habee, thanks for stopping by. I have to admit I am crazy about Valerie Bertinelli also. I also find larger women appealing, and I had no problem with Valerie, even before she lost the weight. She seems so happy now, and I am happy for her.

      Thanks again for stopping by, I appreciate it.

      Mike

    • Pollyannalana profile image

      Pollyannalana 7 years ago from US

      I commented on this yesterday but was having trouble with comments going in, a first but seems fixed now. Yes I always liked her and more on Hot in Cleveland than anything yet, I love her part she plays!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      I've always liked VB, and my ex was in love with her! My present husband likes large women, so he was thrilled when Kirstie gained weight! lol

    • Mike Lickteig profile image
      Author

      Mike Lickteig 7 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      Drbj, thanks for stopping by. I agree--Valerie Bertinelli is a gem, and I would watch nearly anything she appears in. I am happy for her success because she remains so unassuming, particularly in relation to other Hollywood stars. Thanks again.

      Mike

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      Nice tribute to Valerie, Mike. She is remarkable for having reinvented herself and jump-starting her career. The title of her new TV show, 'Hot in Cleveland' could well describe Valerie.

    • Mike Lickteig profile image
      Author

      Mike Lickteig 7 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      John, thanks for reading. I always liked 'One Day at a Time.' For a comedy it was very dramatic, and it dealt with a variety of social issues, especially in the earliest episodes. It was a good show that deserves to be remembered well. I was a bit older than you when it came out, but I enjoyed it, also.

      Thanks again for stopping by. Take care.

      Mike

    • Mike Lickteig profile image
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      Mike Lickteig 7 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      SteveoMc, thanks for reading. Pretended to be fatter? I guess it's possible, but I dunno................... I found it interesting that several other folks jumped on the Jenny Craig bandwagon, including Phyllicia Rashad, who made a commercial for Jenny Craig and was never heard from again. There was also Kirstie Alley, of course, who took the weight off but couldn't keep it off. Jason Alexander managed to slim down--now it will be up to him to stay there. Behind it all, the determination to get slim and stay that way shines through. Valerie Bertinelli should be proud of herself.

      Thanks again for reading, I appreciate it.

      Mike

    • Mike Lickteig profile image
      Author

      Mike Lickteig 7 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      Paradise, thanks for stopping by. I always enjoy "whatever happened to...' features, and Valerie Bertinelli came close to becoming a trivia question. She transformed herself in the last three years, and it is a fascinating and nice thing to see. I hope the path stays good for her.

      Thanks again. Take care.

      Mike

    • Mike Lickteig profile image
      Author

      Mike Lickteig 7 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      Minnetonka Twin, thanks for reading. I agree that Valerie and Eddie Van Halen never seemed a good match for each other, and it is interesting that her life and career are both moving forward nicely since she filed for divorce. Sometimes it takes awhile to see things clearly, I guess.

      I thought the One Day at a Time opening credits and the Jenny Craig commercial were a nice counterbalance to each other. I'm glad you enjoyed seeing them again. Thanks again for reading.

      Mike

    • Mike Lickteig profile image
      Author

      Mike Lickteig 7 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      CS, thanks for stopping by. It is inspirational to see someone turn their life around. Whether it is real or an act, Valerie Bertinelli always seems so genuine in her views on life, which is a big part of what makes her success so admirable.

      Thanks again for stopping by, I appreciate it a lot. Take care.

      Mike

    • John B Badd profile image

      John B Badd 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

      This is a great hub Mike. I remember watching the show growing up (it aired the year I was born) in syndicate and later episodes. Watching the intro brought back fond memories.

    • SteveoMc profile image

      SteveoMc 7 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      I wondered where she came from...nice hub. So do you think she pretended to be fatter than she was so that she could launch into the ad campaign. Anyway, I always liked her and glad to see her doing well.

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 7 years ago from Upstate New York

      Terrific hub, Mike. I wondered what happened to some of those TV stars from the past, Valerie included. Thanks! I'm glad to see she now looks well and happy.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 7 years ago from Minnesota

      Mike-I really enjoyed this hub about our sweet Valerie. I loved that you put on the videos of the show and the commercial. She looks fabulous. What a great person to motivate others. I always thought she and rocker boy were not a true match. I am so happy for her. Thx for a great hub. Up and Awesome

    • profile image

      coffeesnob 7 years ago

      Mike this was great - felt like I was catching up on an old friend that I had long forgotton. It's always inspiring to see people turn their life around

    • Mike Lickteig profile image
      Author

      Mike Lickteig 7 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      Allan, thanks for reading. I will confess to being a Valerie Bertinelli fan myself, and I've watched her ever since One Day at a Time. I admire her ability to reinvent herself without changing who she is, and her comeback is well-deserved. Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it greatly. Take care.

      Mike

    • Allan Douglas profile image

      Allan Douglas 7 years ago from Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

      Great hub Mike. I had such a crush on Valerie in One Day at a Time. I wasonly a FEW years older than she, so it's wasn't really a SICK fascination! I've enjoyed seeing her appearances ever since. I'm glad she's enjoying some success yet, and I appreaciate your pulling all together to artfully.