Valerie Bertinelli celebrated her 63rd birthday on April 23 at the airport. “I am so over-the-moon grateful on my birthday this year!” she shared. “I have survived the hardest six years of my life, and now I’m in Amsterdam. And on Thursday, I get to watch my son open for Metallica! Life is good!”
It has been an emotionally trying time of big life changes for the beloved TV personality. Valerie survived the death of Eddie Van Halen, her son’s father, as well as a soul-crushing, costly divorce and the cancellation of her Emmy-winning Food Network series, Valerie’s Home Cooking, all in just a few years’ time. “It just looked endlessly sad, scary, lonely and stressful,” she said about the experience.
But with all the pluck of Barbara Cooper, the sweetheart character that made her a star on One Day at a Time in the 1970s, Valerie remains hopeful that she’s past the hardest part. “I don’t want to live with regrets anymore,” she said.
Last summer, when the terms of Valerie’s split from Tom Vitale, her husband of 11 years, were still up in the air, she received the painful news that the Food Network would not be renewing Valerie’s Home Cooking for a 15th season. “I have no idea why,” she said in a candid post a few months later. “Honestly, I was hoping they would change their mind. But they have not.”
The cooking series, which earned Valerie two Daytime Emmy Awards in 2019, had been much more than just a job to the performer. It was personal. After years of struggling with her weight, crash diets and food issues — which Valerie talked about in several bestselling books — sharing her love of cooking felt like a positive step to a healthier future.
“I went through a long period where food was the enemy. I’ve finally come back to a place where it’s an expression of love and creativity,” she wrote in her 2022 memoir, Enough Already.
She will reportedly be back on Food Network with a new season of Kids Baking Championship, but losing her home cooking show has been an emotional blow. “There’s been no official reason why,” a reality show executive tells Closer. “It could be a lack of ratings, the costs to put the show on or just an executive decision to move on. Every network has been cutting back. Valerie’s show had a really good run, so she should be grateful and count her blessings.”
She’s trying. “In hindsight, the news about her show getting canceled was more shocking than her divorce. She didn’t see that one coming at all,” said a friend. “But she’s all about seeing the bright side of things. She may not see it in the moment, but there’s always a silver lining. She’s looking forward to working on new projects. Fielding offers always gets her motivated and excited.”
The changes in Valerie’s private life were less sudden but even more excruciating. She and Tom, a financial planner whom she wed in 2011 after six years together, were already separated by the time Eddie died in 2020 after a long battle with cancer.
“Ed’s death woke her up to certain things. It made her face harsh realities about her marriage to Tom and her food issues,” said a friend. “She and Tom were growing apart, and they didn’t do the work to stay together.”
In shared posts, Valerie has confided that she was emotionally abused about her weight in her marriage. “I have been screamed at so many times and told how fat and lazy I am,” she said. “I realize … that was someone just projecting on me whatever they needed to project on me, but my part in all of it was believing it. I don’t believe it anymore, but it still doesn’t stop the feelings from coming up and the hurt.”
When she asked for a divorce, Tom fought back with demands for alimony and other financial support despite their prenuptial agreement. Last November, the exes settled with Valerie paying $2.2 million to Tom to end the marriage. “That divorce was so wicked, and it’s really brought me to my knees,” she said on a podcast. “But I think of that as a gift because I get to learn so much about myself through this.”
Valerie admits that the vicious nature of the split gave her “trust issues” about men, so dating is not on her current agenda. Recovery is her greater priority.
“I believe that a lot of emotional pain is stored in the body, and I’m doing my best to heal from it in every way — my therapy, my journaling, my meditation, rolfing,” she said. That last practice aims to relieve tension stored in the body and psyche through deep tissue manipulation. “It’s so painful,” Valerie admits, “but there is a release that happens that’s really helpful.”
Valerie says she’s still learning. The death of her first ex-husband, Eddie, her self-professed “soulmate” with whom she had a long up-and-down relationship, taught her a valuable lesson about the resilience of love. “No matter what you go through, you can always find your way back to love and forgiveness,” Valerie said. “We were able to do that.”
On her trip to Europe, Valerie is spending time with her younger brother Patrick, her son, Wolf, 32, who is touring in support of his upcoming solo album and his fiancée, Andraia Allsop. “She adores Andraia,” said the friend. “She is really looking forward to the wedding.”
Most of all, Valerie is counting the blessings of family, good health and love in her life. “I get to choose every day whether I’m thankful and in gratitude or whether I just want to be a bitch and just scream,” she said on a podcast. “And I choose to be grateful and be thankful because I also get to learn so much.”