From time immemorial, young girls have fantasized about catching the eye of a sexy musician. But when it happened to 20-year-old Valerie Bertinelli, five years into her stint as a wholesome Everyteen on TV’s One Day at a Time, it took even her by surprise. On August 29, 1980, Bertinelli’s brother Patrick dragged his reluctant sis to see a heavy metal band play near his home in Shreveport, La. Eight months later, on April 11, 1981, she married the band’s grinning guitar virtuoso, 24-year-old Eddie Van Halen.
In those days Bertinelli preferred the music of Elton John and Linda Ronstadt, but when she ran into Van Halen tuning his guitar backstage before the show, love came walking in. ”I looked at him and he looked at me — and that was it,” she has said, adding they were both too shy to say much. ”My heart melted.” After the concert, they talked for hours about Van Halen’s youth in Holland, their strict Catholic upbringings, and the trials of show business.
Before long, Van Halen moved out of his folks’ home in Pasadena and into Bertinelli’s Hollywood Hills house. In an atypical rock-star move, Van Halen made Bertinelli wait a month before sleeping with her so that they could get to know each other better. Mere months later, Bertinelli (brandishing a one-carat emerald-cut diamond engagement ring) and Van Halen wed in a traditional service in front of 450 relatives and friends.
Married 16 years now, an eternity for showbiz couples, the two have muddled through Van Halen’s tumultuous relationship with singer David Lee Roth, Bertinelli’s 1986 miscarriage, and Van Halen’s alcoholism (which he says he now has under control). These days, despite their careers (Bertinelli was last seen in last February’s Night Sins on CBS; Van Halen and crew have a new album due out this summer), they keep a relatively low profile — opting for quiet nights with son Wolfgang, 6, in their home overlooking the San Fernando Valley. ”At 6 o’clock, no matter what I’m doing, I quit, because that’s family time,” Van Halen says. ”We eat dinner together, discuss the school day, Valerie’s day, and my day.” Bertinelli has attributed their ”secure relationship” to ”communication and trust. Besides loving each other, we really like each other.”
Then again, it may just be destiny, according to what they learned in a 1986 visit to a Toronto psychic. Bertinelli told PEOPLE magazine that ”we found out that in a past life I was his mother and in another past life I was his sister.” Three lifetimes together, and they don’t seem to be tired of each other yet.