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RIP: B.J. Wexler

Oklahoma has lost a public television legend.

We have learned that OETA Movie Club host B.J. Wexler passed away yesterday at the age of 83.

For those who are either not from here, too young to remember, or were fortunate enough to grow up in a household that had basic cable, B.J. Wexler hosted the OETA Movie Club – a Friday night program that would air old classic films, and in more modern times, movies that embarrassed bashful Oklahoma legislators – for 30-years from its launch in 1988 until he stepped away in 2018.

B.J. had an honest, affable and endearing charm. He would welcome viewers into his studio, bucket of popcorn in hand, and prep them on the classic movie they were about to watch. In segments interlaced throughout the broadcast, he'd share trivia questions about the actors, fun production facts, and most importantly, read some viewer mail – a segment where grandparents from across the state would send B.J. letters, photographs, and movie memorabilia to share with other warm, cozy and probably elderly viewers on Friday night.

Because he was an Oklahoma-only icon with great hair and a good name, B.J. became a go-to TLO pop-culturish Easter egg reference for us over the years. He made the list of Oklahoma men more handsome than Blake Shelton, got a TLO write up about his own celebrity sandwich, and even snuck his way into a list of people you don't want to see on a doorbell camera. In 2012, he upset Mary Fallin in the first round of Ogle Madness V as a 14-seed, only to fall to the Devon Tower in a close second-round matchup. Hell, he even snuck his way into a graphic for a Lost Ogle Show episode I recorded with Jason and Royce over the summer:

The last time I remember seeing B.J. on TV was about six or seven years ago. My uncle Bob was visiting from Dallas, and we went to catch a Thunder playoff game downtown. When I took him back to my grandpa's house on the southside following the game, I went inside to use the restroom and eat couple of slices of leftover pizza. When we walked in, my grandfather – an important person in my life who passed away in April – was sound asleep and snoring on the "devan" in the living room, while B.J. Wexler was on the TV going through viewer mail. Grandpa didn't have his hearing aids in, so the volume was turned up all the way. The whole scene made me laugh at the time, and brings a tear to my eye today.

Our deepest thoughts and condolences go out to B.J.'s family, friends and everyone who wrote him letters over the years. If you're holed up this weekend staying away from snow and the bitter cold, grab a tub of popcorn, get comfortable on the couch, and watch an old classic movie in his honor. Maybe even listen to the Gremlins theme a few hundred times while you're at it.


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