Tri-State Original: Cactus Jim - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Tri-State Original: Cactus Jim

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QUINCY, Ill. (WGEM) -- Cactus Jim is a name that's not heard too often these days in the Quincy area but the former TV star is still around living out his golden years.

The beloved cowboy once hosted a children's show right here on WGEM.

The show went off the air in 1970, but the memories live on.

"It was one of those things, it was all new to us, no one knew anything, there were no classes so we just made it up as we went," said Dick Moore, who played Cactus Jim.

In just one day back in 1953, Moore went from being a cameraman at a local TV station to a cowboy hosting a children's television show.

"The first day we started it was nothing. I went across the street to Penny's, bought a t-shirt and a pair of jeans and wore cowboy boots," Moore said.

He did something right. Prairie Farms bought the show three days later and before he knew it, he was reminding kids to drink their milk.

"No script, no cue cards, we'd hold up a carton of milk and look at it and talk about it and that was it," Moore said.

But when the beloved cowboy finished his show for the day, Moore's personal life was heading downhill. He was an alcoholic and his drinking was getting out of hand.

"I don't know how bad I smelled to be honest with you. You know when you talk to somebody who drinks, you find that out pretty quickly."

Moore says he always started drinking after his show, but one day in 1960 he simply had enough.

"I got on my knees one day and said Lord whoever you are, whatever name you go by, I want to know you."

He says he hasn't had a drink since.

Moore continued to do the Cactus Jim show until 1970 when he decided it was time to hang up his spurs. Moore went on to manage the Illinois Dairy Association and later opened his own business.

"I did a lot of things from decorating caps with emblems on the front to plaques, awards, trophies, things like that."

And now that the 84-year-old is retired, he and his wife Lois have found their own hobbies here in their home in El Paso, Illinois to keep themselves occupied.

"It's been a good life. I'm 84 and any day I could go to heaven and I'm happy."

Even though Cactus Jim has been off the air for more than 40 years, Moore says he still gets approached by fans and still receives mail from people throughout the country.

 

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