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Don Boyd | all galleries >> Memories of Old Hialeah, Old Miami and Old South Florida Photo Galleries - largest non-Facebook collection on the internet >> Miami Area TELEVISION and RADIO PERSONALITIES Historical Photo Gallery - click on image to view >> 1950s & 60s - The Charlie Baxter / M. T. Graves Photo Gallery - RIP Charlie! Click on image to view > 10/7/07 - Miami Herald news story about Charlie Baxter's life and death
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10/7/07 - Miami Herald news story about Charlie Baxter's life and death

Miami, Florida

M.T. Graves of '60s TV dies

Posted on Sun, Oct. 07, 2007

He was 82 and had been living in a Tennessee nursing home, said his son, Tim Baxter, a Boone, N.C., real estate agent.

An early open-heart surgery patient at the Miami Heart Institute in the mid-1970s, he died of heart failure on Wednesday.

In the early days of Miami television, when Channel 7 -- now WSVN -- was WCKT, Charlie Baxter was a busy man. An on-air announcer who did the news, weather and commercials, he also hosted The Fun Club, an early-morning kiddie show co-starring Willie the Moose, Space Lab as the bespectacled Professor Klinker and Super Heroes.

But the character M.T. Graves, who did cut-ins during breaks in the horror movies, made him a local superstar.

''He was so dedicated to the character, he was M.T. Graves,'' said Charlie Folds, Baxter's longtime sidekick. ''He wore raggedy black clothes with holes, monster rubber feet and he had a hook hand,'' as well as a single bushy eyebrow that spanned his forehead, fake scars and jutting prosthetic teeth.

Graves inhabited a dank stone dungeon and was always in trouble with the warden and an unseen guard.

''He did all the voices,'' said Tim Baxter, a former broadcast executive. ``Technology wasn't so great back then. . . I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. Half of my friends were afraid of him, half loved him.''

In 1962, Baxter spun off a character called M.T. Space -- M.T. Graves in a football helmet -- billed as ``the astro-nut.''

Baxter, an Army brat, got his first on-air job at 14 as an actor on radio in Toledo and Chicago. At 16 he became an announcer WCOS in Columbia, S.C., by winning a contest.

After an overseas tour in the Marines during World War II, he got radio jobs in Detroit and Chicago and attended the University of Chicago. He called Toldeo Mud Hens baseball games for the hometown station. His first Florida job was for a short-lived Fort Lauderdale television station. He worked at WIOD, WCKR and WQAM, and joined WCKT in 1956.

Sunday mornings at 8 a.m., he and Folds hosted Sunday Funnies, during which Baxter and audience kids read The Miami Herald's comics. Folds beeped along as Toby the Robot.

Out of character, Baxter had ''a polished, generic announcer voice,'' said Folds, of Parkland, who retired in 2004 as WSVN's community relations director.

``And he was always interested in classical music.''

As Charlie Baxter, he narrated Peter and the Wolf for the Miami Beach Symphony. As M.T. Graves, he conducted.

M.T. Graves was born in 1957 when station executives asked Baxter to create a character, and was an instant hit.

He sometimes needed police protection from mobs of screaming fans, said Tim Baxter.

``Halloween was his big night. He was always at some big party at a high school, or a town would have its main street blocked off and he'd come in a convertible.''

A decade after he first appeared in his dungeon, Graves hung up his chains though he continued with other characters.

Three years later, Baxter called the station from a Maine vacation and said he wasn't coming back.

He stayed, and took up writing.

A few years later, he returned to WKID with an hourlong show with his son: Captain Kid's Secret Island, live from Pirates World in Dania Beach, followed by an announcing stint at WA1A-FM.

His last South Florida gig before moving to Tennessee in 1976 was at Broward Community College's Buehler Planetarium, where he lectured, in costume, to kids.

Fans have created several Charlie Baxter tribute websites, including , and .

In addition to his son, Baxter, who was married twice, is survived by daughter Alexandra Beth Rouse of Tennessee and three grandchildren. He donated his body to Vanderbilt University's Medical School. No services were held.

The family requests donations to Cumberland University's Fine Arts Council, Lebanon, Tenn., or The Salvation Army.

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Guest 22-Oct-2013 14:52
Many a Saturday afternoon was spent watching Charlie(M.T.) and those horror movies(man, they were cheesy!). Mom, or Dad, would yell at me to fnish cutting the lawn, or some other oft- neglected chore while I sat glued to the TV. Loved/ hated the flicks, but loved M.T.'s schtick-R.I.P Charlie Baxter-t,ansbro
Stephen P Stacy19-Jan-2013 08:19
He had the Saturday morning 7 o'clock Club. I was on that in about '63 and won a fire truck in one of his little contests. Then we ate Whoppers from Burger King and went home. It was shot on Friday night so we could see ourselves the next morning.
Guest 16-Jul-2012 01:26
I have fondly remembered Charlie - M.T. Graves for many years, he was wonderful and brought a lot of happiness to a lot of folks.
Columbus Martin JR 13-May-2012 15:37
Mt was the best. He brightened up my shut in key lock kid life with his antics and I will be forever grateful to him.
Sheila Sullivan 21-Feb-2012 02:37
An evening conversation got me to thinking back and remembering M.T Graves. I couldn't wait to watch him on TV and even sent for an autographed picture, which Mr. Baxter was nice enough to send along.

Thank you for the wonderful memories :)
Max Dugan 22-Jun-2009 18:33
The promos were the greatest. At 3pm Wayne Fariss would break-in during a broadcast:, "M T Graves has just secaped from his dungeon beneath the studios of WCKT". MT would be keyed in atop of the transmitting tower and the NBV Fire and Police Departments would have bull horns begging MT to come down. This was the magic in television. Today, local television is more like formula cooking or painting.

Saturday television was the greatest. Today, it sucks!
Art Carlson 11-Sep-2008 01:55
My most memorable MT Graves show was when MT actually escaped from the dungeon and was pursued up the TV tower by the warden! The film actually had them climbing the tower and, naturally, MT was caught and thrown off the tower, only to come crashing through the ceiling of his dungeon, right back where he belonged! I carried my membership card for years. Charlie, you were the best!
Guest 03-Jul-2008 15:27
Living in Florida as a little 7 yr. old I can remember The Dungeon coming on t.v. "WoW" I admit i could get scared at times but I would not miss it! One day I got an idea, had my uncle buy me a plastic rubber made foot-way too big for me wait for him to come home from work and I hid in closet with my big ugly foot of rubber sticking out I could hear him calling and all of a sudden I spook him and started laughing-Thanks Charlie-Mr.Graves for answering my letter....................Ana
Harvey 14-Jun-2008 05:44
I remember that Sunday Funnies show. It ran a longtime as I must've caught it in the 70's. How long did that show run?
Ron E 08-Nov-2007 12:55
i have always remembered the M.T.Graves show. i have mentioned it in conversations to my students over the years and shared many stories about the show to my own kids. hats off to you charlie, those old times are truly missed. R.E.
Guest 08-Oct-2007 16:31
Charlie you were the best