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We watched Barbara grow up from a shy, sweet-faced tomboy into a
vibrant, beautiful woman. The cute little sister with the brown eyes and
long dark hair quickly became the main attraction for young male viewers on the trendsetting show.

Originally written as a 14-year-old, Valerie's Barbara aged to 15 1/2
after the first 13 episodes. Throughout the course of the show, she
progressed from worrying about school exams to dealing with issues
such as virginity, sexuality, birth control and sexual harassment. By
the seventh season Barbara was a married woman.
Valerie was an introverted 15-year-old with little self confidence when the series began. "If my jeans were two sizes bigger ... than Mackenzie's (co-star Phillips), I thought I was a fat hog. I just didn't think highly of myself."

Valerie told the “Today” show she was so unsure of herself that the director occasionally made her cry. “This was my first big deal and I didn't know quite how to project,” she said. “He would come over the intercom and say, 'Project, Valerie, project!' And then he yelled at me and...” she made a “boo-hoo” sound.

She transformed herself into what “Stuff” magazine called, “a tube-top stretchin' twenty-something [that] was the kind of natural phenomenon they build national parks around.”

But Valerie never thought she was that beautiful, as she explained in a 1987 interview.
"My eyes aren’t special, my nose isn’t special, my mouth isn’t special. The only things I really love about myself physically are my ankles and my hair," she said.

"I see the imperfections. I'm not Kim Basinger. I'm not Jaclyn Smith. Those women are knock-down gorgeous. That's what I'd love to be but I'm not."

Produced by Norman Lear, “One Day at a Time” tackled controversial and serious topics mixed with comedy. The series starred divorced mom Ann Romano (Bonnie Franklin), who attempted to survive financially and emotionally in a man's world. Ann was only the second divorced mom featured on a TV series at that time.

Barbara was the easy-going, accommodating younger sister willing to please to make everybody else happy. Phillips played Barbara's older sister Julie.

Although “One Day at a Time” never ranked higher than 10th in the Nielsen ratings, the show consistently stayed in the Top 20 for its first eight seasons.

Valerie said in 1976 for the book “TV Talk 2” that she couldn't relate to her TV family “because I've not been through a divorce. It's hard for me to imagine, but I do the best I can. The show must be doing a good job, though. The letters we receive all say how real the show is, and how real the family is.”

In real life, Phillips struggled with cocaine addiction and was twice fired from the show. Valerie later admitted doing cocaine with Phillips, and using more drugs after she married rock guitarist Eddie Van Halen.

Born in Wilmington, Delaware, Valerie and her family moved a lot when she was young, following her dad's job as a General Motors executive. She never considered becoming an actress until the family moved to  Los Angeles.
"Several days later they called me back. I didn't get the commercial, but being called back helped me from feeling like a complete failure."

She finally started landing jobs in commercials, and she attracted Lear's attention when she appeared in just one episode of the TV show “Apple's Way.” Lear asked the then 14-year-old Valerie to audition for “One Day at a Time.”

After the show's nine-year run, Valerie starred in the sitcoms “Sydney” and “Touch by An Angel,” as well as several made for TV movies.

Valerie earned recent fame for her weight loss. She became a spokeswoman for Jenny Craig and modeled a bikini on the cover of “People” magazine in 2009 at age 49.

Her most recent project is starring in the series “Hot in Cleveland,” with Betty White, Jane Leeves, and Wendie Matlick..
Valerie Bertinelli "One Day at a Time" Barbara Cooper
Valerie Bertinelli "One Day at a Time" Barbara Cooper
Classic TV Beauties

No. 25
Classic TV Beauties 1970s Countdown
VALERIE BERTINELLI as Barbara Cooper in "One Day at a Time"
"We saw an ad in the newspaper for an acting school. My father wanted me to try it to get over my shyness,” Valerie said in “TV Talk 2.”  “So I started taking once-a-week classes when I was 11. I was scared to death. Whenever I did a report in class I was scared! We had just moved to California and I didn't know anybody. My teacher... thought I had talent and wanted to sign me up."

Valerie reluctantly agreed to go on auditions.

"My first audition was for a deodorant commercial," she said. "I was so scared! All the girls who were there looked about three years older than me. I wondered why they'd want me. I was 12 then. I was crushed after the first interview. I cried all the way home.
Valerie Bertinelli "One Day at a Time" Barbara Cooper
Valerie Bertinelli "One Day at a Time" Barbara Cooper
Suzanne Somers "Three's Company" Chrissy Snow
Victoria Principal "Dallas" Pamela Ewing
Farrah Fawcett "Charlie's Angels" Jill Munroe
Lynda Carter "Wonder Woman"
Loretta Swit "M*A*S*H" Margaret Houlihan
Mary Tyler Moore "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" Mary Richards
Loni Anderson "WKRP in Cincinnati" Jennifer Marlowe
Tina Louise "Gilligan's Island" Ginger Grant
Erin Gray "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" Wilma Deering
Lindsay Wagner "The Bionic Woman" Jamie Sommers
Jan Smithers "WKRP in Cincinnati" Bailey Quarters