Q: What happened to Nancy O’Dell on “Entertainment Tonight”? She hasn’t been on for several weeks.
A: More like several months. In August, O’Dell announced she was leaving “ET” after nine years with the show. In a statement quoted by EW.com at the time, O’Dell said in part, “Not long ago, a dear friend told me to make a life list, writing down on one side career milestones, and on the other side, what I still want to accomplish. As I take on that list of things still to come, it means leaving this position, but it does not mean I am leaving the genre.” (O’Dell also worked on “Access Hollywood” before joining “ET.”) She continued: “I’ll be back and it won’t be long. I’m going to enjoy some time off with the most wonderful gal in my life, my daughter, because they grow up way too fast. She is always my priority and then I’ll focus on my new project.”
Kind of related
Q: Are these folks related: Barbara Billingsley of “Leave It to Beaver,” Jennifer Billingsley of the movie “White Lightning” and Peter Billingsley of “A Christmas Story”? I’ve been curious about this for years.
A: I cannot find any connection between Jennifer Billingsley and the other two actors. There is a slight connection between Barbara and Peter Billingsley. As the Turner Classic Movies website explains it, Barbara’s first husband, Glenn Billingsley, “provided her with her surname as well as two sons, before their marriage ended in 1947 [and] a familial connection to future child star and director Peter Billingsley, whose mother, Gail, was her first husband’s cousin.”
Dickens, Fenster, Astin & Ingels
Q: Whatever happened to “I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster,” starring John Astin and Marty Ingels? And what happened to Ingels, by the way?
A: The comedy about two construction workers lasted just the 1962-63 season on ABC, but it was good. I still have some of its gags stuck in my head. Astin went on to greater fame a year later as Gomez on “The Addams Family” and a long career as a character actor. The raspy-voiced Ingels continued as an actor and talent agent. But when he died in 2015, the Los Angeles Times said his long marriage to actress Shirley Jones made him “best-known as half of what many thought to be one of Hollywood’s oddest couples.” A DVD set of selected episodes from “I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster” came out several years ago.
Happy to help
Q: I saw a film many years ago, starring William H. Macy. I cannot locate it on IMDb. He plays a gay policeman who falls in love with a man who doesn’t return the sentiment. Can you tell me the name of this film?
A: That would be “Happy, Texas,” a 1999 comedy starring Steve Zahn and Jeremy Northam as escaped convicts who pose as the gay operators of a small-town beauty pageant. Macy plays the local sheriff who falls for Northam’s character. But the cons are attracted to two women in town, played by Illeana Douglas and Ally Walker. The movie is available digitally and on DVD.