She's the milk-fresh sweetheart of CBS' smash sitcom, One Day at a Time. He's the guitarist of a heavy-metal band whose lead singer carries Lloyd's of London insurance against paternity suits. So even Valerie Bertinelli, 21, admits that her marriage last April to Eddie Van Halen, 26, of the rock group that bears his surname, might conjure up images of Beauty beset by the Beast. Giggles Bertinelli, "Looks bad, doesn't it?"
But those are the only appearances that are deceiving. In truth, Bertinelli bears a disarming resemblance to her semi-hip but fundamentally wholesome One Day counterpart, Barbara Cooper. "Barbara is 80 or 90 percent Valerie," says Bertinelli, who herself had a 10:30 p.m. curfew until she was 16. And, like the v*rginal Cooper in a memorable One Day episode, Valerie felt out of sync with her sexually more adventurous high school classmates. "I went through the same peer pressure that Barbara went through, and I didn't do all the things other people were doing," she says. "When I look back on it, I was really boring." Hardly. Over the years Valerie has dated actor Dirk (Battlestar Galactica) Benedict and director Steven Spielberg.
Still, Bertinelli is proud of her principles—and that her winsome CBS movie this week, The Princess and the Cabbie, contains "not one dirty word, not one sex scene and just one kiss." So the question remains: What's a nice girl like that doing with a guy who plays guitar with his teeth? Simple, says Valerie: "He's not the typical rock star. It shocked me that he was so normal."
When she first saw Eddie's picture, in a finger-pointing pose on his 1980 LP Women and Children First, she thought, "What a cutie!" — and forgot about him. Then, during last year's actors' strike, Valerie visited her parents in Shreveport, La. and joined her brother Patrick, 17, who had passes to a local Van Halen concert. On meeting Eddie backstage, she says, "He gave me exactly the same finger-pointing pose, said, 'You're Valerie Bertin...,' and I slid down the wall." Eddie remembers, "I'd seen her on the show and thought...hmm, I'd like to meet her. When she turned up I was amazed. I thought, 'There she is! I want it!' No, actually I was very nervous."
"After the concert," Valerie continues, "we sat and talked for hours and hours. We realized we had a lot in common. We talked about our parents, Holland [where he was born], how strict our upbringings had been, what it's like to be sensitive and scared of people. He has the same kind of scared feelings I have about the business." The capper came when she found that, despite three platinum LPs and three world tours, Van Halen still lived at home in Pasadena with his Indonesian mother and his father, a professional musician. The family emigrated to the U.S. when Edward was 9. "As soon as I met them I could see why he was so normal," says Valerie. "I mean, does Mick Jagger live with his mother?"