2007-10-11 09:54:05 UTC
M.T. Graves of '60s TV Dies
FROM: The Miami Herald ~
By Elinor J. Brecher
Charles Morrison Baxter -- known to a generation
of South Florida kids as M.T. Graves,
vampire-voiced spokesghoul on The Dungeon, a
'60s-era, Saturday horror-movie show -- has died.
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
But the character M.T. Graves, who did cut-ins
during breaks in the horror movies, made him a
''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
Graves inhabited a dank stone dungeon and was
always in trouble with the warden and an unseen
''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
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
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
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.