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Menees, "Cactus" Charlie, 1916-1993



  • Existence: 1916 - 1993


Charles ("Cactus" Charlie) Menees was internationally recognized as a critic, radio producer, and jazz educator. He was the first jazz critic for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. His radio programs, featuring big band and jazz, aired in St. Louis for nearly 50 years. He also taught courses on jazz for 20 years at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and other colleges in the St. Louis area.

Menees was born November 8, 1916, in Springfield, Illinois. In his late teens he was the leader of a dance band and also began his newspaper career at the Weekly Gazette in Virginia, Illinois, where he grew up. In 1941 he graduated with a degree in History from Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. His first job after graduating was as a reporter-photographer at the Daily Pantagraph in Bloomington, Illinois. In 1943 Charlie Menees married Mary Kay Hardesty and they had three children. Menees later went on to work for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for 20 years and then McDonnell Douglas as editor of the Airscoop for 16 years.

In the mid-1940s, Menees became St. Louis' first jazz disc jockey, working at WTMV before moving to WIL a short time after. He later did jazz programming for KWMU for several years, building a loyal audience and attracting high ratings. In 1978 he joined KMOX in St. Louis as the host of Jazz Under The Arch, where he remained until his death.

Charlie Menees passed away January 7, 1993, at the age of 76.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

"Cactus" Charlie Menees Collection

Identifier: MS-0013
Scope and Contents The “Cactus” Charlie Menees Collection was donated to the UMKC Miller Nichols Library by his family in 1994. The collection, focusing on big band and traditional jazz between 1917 and 1980, consists of personal and professional material, awards, news clippings, books, periodicals, sheet music, posters and graphics, memorabilia, several hundred photographs, over 25,000 sound recordings on LP, 78 and 45 formats, as well as additional audio/visual material. The manuscript collection is housed...
Dates: 1934 - 1994