Gary Edward Keillor MP

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Nicknames: "Garrison"
Location: St. Paul, Hennepin, MN, United States
Birthdate: (71)
Birthplace: Anoka, Anoka County, Minnesota, United States
Occupation: American author, storyteller, humorist, columnist, musician, satirist, and radio personality.
Managed by: Ben M. Angel
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

    • Ulla
      ex-wife
    • Mary
      wife
    • Jason
      son
    • Jenny
      wife
    • Maia
      daughter
    • Grace
      mother
    • Stanley
      brother
    • John
      brother
    • Judith
      sister
    • Linda
      sister
    • Steven
      brother

About Gary Edward Keillor

Gary Edward, better known as Garrison, Keillor, born August 7, 1942

The world knows Garrison (Gary Edward) Keillor through his long-running program "A Prairie Home Companion."

According to the Wikipedia page on the program, Keillor became engrossed in the idea of starting his own early 20th century-style variety show after researching an article on the Grand Ole Opry of Nashville, Tennessee (USA). Indeed, the program started in 1974 much the same as the Opry, performing in front of a live audience at the Janet Wallace Auditorium of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota; it was then broadcast during the 6-to-9 am morning slot on Minnesota Public Radio.

The person, Gary Edward Keillor, was born in Anoka, Minnesota, to carpenter and postal worker John Philip Keillor and his now near-centenarian wife. According to his Wikipedia page, his family were members of the fundamentalist Plymouth Brethren church in Anoka, a church that apparently discouraged card-playing, dancing, and going to movies (the entry makes a point of mentioning that Garrison is not part of that church today, having opted for the Episcopal faith according to a 2006 article in "Christianity Today"; Joyce Wadler of the New York Times pointed out the irony of his parent's fundamentalist beliefs and the fact that he starred in a film around that same time period).

His Wikipedia page describes his ancestry as being "Scottish-Norwegian." Though there is one Norwegian name in his family tree (Trenholm), and both the names Keillor and Crandall appear along his father's lineage (Native languages expert Joseph Crandall and African-American girls' educator Prudence Crandall being among those he highlighted in his 2004 book "Hometown Democrat"), the Keillor family actually appears to have emerged from Yorkshire (the earliest known ancestral home along his paternal line), having at least passed through there in the 18th century. They crossed the Atlantic Ocean as part of Michael Francklin's initiative to settle Nova Scotia with farmers from that area of northern England, an effort credited with having preserved the Maritimes from becoming a battlefield in the American Revolution.

Around the time of the American Civil War, Garrison's great-grandparents migrated westward, and they passed through Kingston, Ontario, at a time when folks south of the St. Lawrence River were preparing to elect a "prairie lawyer" as their 16th president. Grandfather James Crandall Keillor entered the world there as the family continued westward toward Anoka (a place still argued as being the first to raise volunteers for the Union cause, according to the city's Wikipedia page).

Keillor himself grew up in the biting cold of the "self-proclaimed Halloween capital of the world" (so named because it was one of the first to host a Halloween Day parade). Such local eccentricities certainly went into the character of his fictitious hometown of Lake Wobegon, even though he says that the actual town he modeled the "place where we waited all day (in the rain)," (the supposed Indian translation of "Wobegon,") was actually Marine on St. Croix further east.

His home in Anoka was built around him as he grew up, and by the time he was a teenager, the family had finally moved from their "windowed basement" to the Cape-style house above it. He was all of 16-1/2 when a Beechcraft Bonanza airplane crashed a few hundred miles to the west, taking the lives of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper with it. He was already in the University of Minnesota studying English when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated down south in Dallas; having a voice (and some have joked "a face") made for radio, he got involved with student radio at KUOM (Radio K) before he graduated there in 1966.

Besides a degree, he also left the University of Minnesota with his first wife, Mary Guntzel, with whom he stayed married for 11 years and fathered a son in 1969, a boy whom of course now already has children of his own. It was towards the end of that marriage in 1974 that Keillor began producing "A Prairie Home Companion," the first show being broadcast live on July 6 of that year in front of an audience of 12, mostly children. Pianist Butch Thompson brought in a larger audience for the second show, securing a place in future broadcasts.

Garrison and Mary divorced in 1976. After their divorce, Garrison began seeing his show's producer, Margaret Moos, sparking a relationship that apparently developed a fan-base of its own. Two years later, the show moved from Macalester College to the World Theater in St. Paul, the venue (renamed in 1994 as Fitzgerald Theater) from which the show continues to be broadcast from today.

In the late 1980s, at his 25-year high school reunion, he fell in love with a Danish woman who had been an exchange student during his senior year, Ulla Skaerved. They married, much to the disapproval of many of his fans. When the local press harassed him over the marriage, he announced an end to "A Prairie Home Companion" and picked up and moved to Copenhagen, according to New York Times' Wadler. A replacement show called "Good Evening" proved to be considerably less popular, with many National Public Radio stations opting for repeats of Garrison's show instead.

The hiatus lasted until about 1989, when his marriage with Ulla appeared to have ended (they divorced the next year). He formed the American Radio Company of the Air that year and began to broadcast in much the same format as he had with "A Prairie Home Companion" at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, but with a sensibility that better reflected New York City. At first he downplayed Lake Wobegon, saying that he "felt it was cruel" to talk about small town life to a Brooklyn audience, but by 1993, the program was back, just as it had been before 1987 (although the theme song had changed from Hank Snow's "Hello Love" to Spencer Williams' "Tishomingo Blues").

In 1995, the year after he was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame, Keillor married his third wife, Anoka-born violinist Jenny Lind Nilsson (15 years his junior), with whom he fathered a daughter near the end of 1997. The following May, he began writing a relationship column for Salon.com under the pen-name of "Mr. Blue" (the second installment of which was entitled "Should writers breed with other writers?"). After three years and open-heart surgery, he resigned from his weekly column in September 2001.

Nonetheless, in 2004, he was back at it with "Hometown Democrat," a collection of political essays. A year later, as work began on the movie version of "A Prairie Home Companion" (directed by Robert Altman, best known for his early 1970s box office success "MASH"), he began to write a new "homespun wisdom" column entitled "The Old Scout". He continued to write his column even last fall, when on Sept. 7, Keillor suffered a mild stroke and was hospitalized (taking the opportunity a week later to illustrate with his hospital visit reasons for "fixing the health insurance" system in the United States). He finally stopped writing last June to prepare a new screenplay and novel, according to Tribune Media Services.

His family today maintains two homes, one on New York's Upper West Side, and one in the same St. Paul, Minnesota, neighborhood from which Charles Schultz first began drawing his Peanuts cartoon strip. According to his Wikipedia page, he politically aligns himself with the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party (the Minnesota affiliate of the National Democrat Party), as is readily apparent in his writing.

But the thing for which Garrison Keillor will probably always be known for is that which he continues to do even today, open-heart surgery and minor strokes notwithstanding, namely, being the voice of "A Prairie Home Companion" (or outside the United States, "Garrison Keillor's Radio Show") and the broadcaster of News from Lake Wobegon to the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.

[By Ben M. Angel, March 23, 2011]

Links

-------------------- From Grolier CD Encyclopedia: As a high school student at Anoka High School, Garrison enjoyed writing, particularly poetry and assume he would one day work for a newspaper. In 1965, while attending the University of Minnesota, Keillor took a job at the schools radio station. He received his B.A. in 1968 and two years later began doing a three-hour show every morning on Minnesota Public Radio "Morning Show". His first humor piece was accepted by the New Yorker in 1969 and has been a frequent contributor since then. "The Prairie Home Companion" (1974-1987), a two-hour anthology of humor and folk music, was first broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio. In 1980 the show was heard on more than 200 public radio stations throughout the United States. millions of listeners tune in on Saturday to hear the latest goings-on in Lake Wobegon. Keillor is the author of Happy to be Here (1982), Lake Wobegon Days (1985), leaving Home (1987), We Are Still married (1989), WLT: A Radio Romance (1991), and The Book of Guys (1993).

Garrison moved to "Uncle Les & Aunt Jean's" house on Hubbard Avenue in St. Paul when he was four years old & his father was serving in the military. Articles have indicated that he began his love affair with St. Paul then. In the 60's he moved into the row houses on Summit Avenue where F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote "This Side of Paradise". Garrison was married and had one son, and in the mid-1980's left his wife for a former exchange student, Ulla Skaerved, with whom he reconnected at a high school reunion. St. Paul didn't like that & let him know in the press. He left St. Paul in 1987 with a "Dear John" letter, and moved to Denmark with his new wife for a year. His marriage failed & within a year he returned to New York and in 1989 reinvented his radio show as "The American Radio Company". He moved back to St. Paul in 1992 to be closer to the source of his inspiration. He explained: "To write about Lake Wobegon, I need to live in Minnesota". He has celebrated the 25th anniversary of his radio show, & now lives in St. Paul on Portland Ave. with his new wife Jenny Lind Nilsson & their two year old daughter.

Dear Garrison,

As a former New Brunswicker, I have always been interested in your Canadian heritage. I have visited the Keillor House Museum in Dorchester, NB. This is not far from the Nova Scotia border. Are these your relatives?

Marion Packard

Marion, those are my relatives. Squire John Keillor who lived in that old stone house in Dorchester was a distant cousin of my ancestor Thomas Keillor, a Yorkshireman who came over around 1775 to farm on the saltwater meadows of Nova Scotia around Amherst.

A descendant of his, William Keillor, married a Mary Crandall, a descendant of New England Loyalists and Baptist clerics, one of whom was a close associate of Roger Williams, the dissenter against John Winthrop's Puritan Massachusetts. William & Mary's son James was my grandfather. In 1880, when he was twenty, he came down to Minnesota to help out his sister and her husband when the husband took sick, whereupon the husband promptly died, and James was obligated to stay. Thus we became Americans. Through a good deed that was a better deed than what was intended.

Keillor was born in Anoka, Minnesota, the son of Grace Ruth (née Denham) and John Philip Keillor, who was a carpenter and postal worker.[1][2] He was raised in a family belonging to the Plymouth Brethren, a fundamentalist Christian denomination he has since left. He is six feet, three inches (1.9 m) tall[3] and is of part Scottish ancestry. Keillor is a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. He is currently an Episcopalian,[4] but has been a Lutheran.[5] His religious roots are frequently worked into his material: he often remarks that most Minnesotans, being of Scandinavian descent, are Lutherans. He graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor's degree in English in 1966. While there, he began his broadcasting career on the student-operated radio station known today as Radio K.

Keillor has been married three times:

To Mary Guntzel, from 1965 to 1976. The couple has one son, Jason, born in 1969.

To Ulla Skaerved (a former exchange student from Denmark at Keillor's high school whom he famously reencountered at a class reunion), from 1985 to 1990.

To violinist Jenny Lind Nilsson (b. 1958), who is from his hometown of Anoka, since 1995. They have one daughter, Maia, born in December 1997.

Between his first two marriages he was also romantically involved with Margaret Moos, who worked as a producer of A Prairie Home Companion.

The Keillors maintain homes on the Upper West Side of New York City and in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

His brother, the historian Steven Keillor, is also an author.

On Feb. 3, 2008, Keillor endorsed Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic Primary. In a letter to the Obama campaign, Keillor stated "I'm happy to support your candidacy, which is so full of promise for our country."

Ancestors

Keillor has many noteworthy ancestors, including Joseph Crandall, who made progress in the studies of Native American languages and was also an associate of Roger Williams (who founded the first American Baptist church as well as Rhode Island) and Prudence Crandall (who founded the first African-American women's school in America).

Garrison Keillor started his radio career in November 1969 with Minnesota Educational Radio (MER), now Minnesota Public Radio (MPR), and distributing programs under the American Public Media (APM) brand. He hosted The Morning Program in the weekday drive time-slot, 6 am to 9 am, which the station called "A Prairie Home Entertainment." During this time he also began submitting fiction to The New Yorker, where his first story, "Local Family Keeps Son Happy," appeared September 19, 1970.[9]

Keillor resigned from The Morning Program in February 1971 to protest what he considered an attempt to interfere with his musical programming. The show became A Prairie Home Companion when he returned in October.[10]

Keillor has attributed the idea for the live Saturday night radio program to his 1973 assignment to write about the Grand Ole Opry, while flying an autogyro for The New Yorker, but he had already begun showcasing local musicians on the morning show, despite limited studio space for them, and in August 1973 The Minneapolis Tribune reported MER's plans for a Saturday night version of A Prairie Home Companion with live musicians.[10][11]

A Prairie Home Companion debuted as an old-style variety show before a live audience on July 6, 1974, featuring guest musicians and a cadre cast doing musical numbers and comic skits replete with elaborate live sound effects. The show was punctuated by spoof commercial spots from such fictitious sponsors as Jack's Auto Repair and Powdermilk Biscuits, "the biscuits that give shy persons the strength to get up and do what needs to be done."[10] Later imaginary sponsors have included Ralph's Pretty Good Grocery ("If you can't find it at Ralph's, you can probably get along Pretty Good without it"), Bertha's Kitty Boutique, the Catchup Advisory Board[12] (which touted "the natural mellowing agents of ketchup"), the American Duct Tape Council, and Bebop-A-Reebop Rhubarb Pie ("sweetening the sour taste of failure through the generations"). The show also contains parodic serial melodramas, such as The Adventures of Guy Noir, Private Eye and The Lives of the Cowboys. After the show's intermission, Keillor reads clever and often humorous greetings to friends and family at home submitted by members of the theater audience, in exchange for an honorarium. Also in the second half of the show, the broadcasts showcase a weekly monologue by Keillor entitled News from Lake Wobegon, based in part on Keillor's own hometown of Anoka, Minnesota. Lake Wobegon is a quintessential but fictional Midwestern small town "where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average." A Prairie Home Companion ran until 1987, when Keillor decided to end it; he worked on other projects, including another live radio program, "The American Radio Company of the Air"--which was virtually identical in format to "A Prairie Home Companion"--for several years. In 1993 he began producing A Prairie Home Companion again, with nearly identically-formatted programs, and has done so since.[13] On A Prairie Home Companion, Keillor receives no billing or credit (except "written by Sarah Bellum", a joking reference to his own brain); his name is not mentioned unless a guest addresses him by his first name or the initials "G. K." However, some sketches do feature Keillor as his alter ego, Carson Wyler, which is a play on his name.

Keillor is also the host of The Writer's Almanac which, like A Prairie Home Companion, is produced and distributed by American Public Media. The Writer's Almanac is also available online[14] and via daily e-mail installments by subscription.[15]

Writing

Keillor has written many magazine and newspaper articles, and nearly a dozen books for adults as well as children. In addition to his time as a writer for The New Yorker, he has written for The Atlantic Monthly and Salon.com.

He also authored an advice column on Salon.com titled "Mr. Blue". Following a heart operation, he resigned on September 4, 2001 in an article entitled "Every dog has his day":

Illness offers the chance to think long thoughts about the future (praying that we yet have one, dear God), and so I have, and so this is the last column of Mr. Blue, under my authorship, for Salon. Over the years, Mr. Blue's strongest advice has come down on the side of freedom in our personal lives, freedom from crushing obligation and overwork and family expectations and the freedom to walk our own walk and be who we are. And some of the best letters have been addressed to younger readers trapped in jobs like steel suits, advising them to bust loose and go off and have an adventure. Some of the advisees have written back to inform Mr. Blue that the advice was taken and that the adventure changed their lives. This was gratifying. So now I am simply taking my own advice. Cut back on obligations: Promote a certain elegant looseness in life. Simple as that. Winter and spring, I almost capsized from work, and in the summer I had a week in St. Mary's Hospital to sit and think, and that's the result. Every dog has his day and I've had mine and given whatever advice was mine to give (and a little more). It was exhilarating to get the chance to be useful, which is always an issue for a writer (What good does fiction do?), and Mr. Blue was a way to be useful. Nothing human is beneath a writer's attention; the basic questions about how to attract a lover and what to do with one once you get one and how to deal with disappointment in marriage are the stuff that fiction is made from, so why not try to speak directly? And so I did. And now it's time to move on.

In 2004 Keillor published a collection of political essays called Homegrown Democrat, and in June 2005 he began a syndicated newspaper column called "The Old Scout," which often addresses political issues. The column also runs at Salon.com.

Keillor wrote the screenplay for the 2006 movie version of A Prairie Home Companion, which was directed by Robert Altman. (Keillor also appears in the movie.)

Bookselling

On November 1, 2006, Keillor opened an independent bookstore in the historic Cathedral Hill area of Saint Paul, Minnesota. "Common Good Books, G. Keillor, Prop."[17] is located at the southwest corner of Selby and N. Western Avenues (in the Blair Arcade Building, Suite 14, in the basement, below Nina's Coffee Cafe). Cathedral Hill is in the Summit-University neighborhood.[18] The bookstore opening was covered by the St. Paul Pioneer Press.[19]

Awards and other recognition

In 1994, Keillor was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame.[20]

"Welcome to Minnesota" markers in interstate rest areas near the state's borders include statements such as "Like its neighbors, the thirty-second state grew as a collection of small farm communities, many settled by immigrants from Scandinavia and Germany. Two of the nation's favorite fictional small towns -- Sinclair Lewis's Gopher Prairie and Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon -- reflect that heritage."[21]

In 2007, The Moth, a NYC-based not-for-profit storytelling organization, awarded Garrison Keillor with the first The Moth Award - Honoring the Art of the Raconteur at the annual Moth Ball. [22]

Controversies

In 2005, Keillor's attorneys sent a cease-and-desist letter to MNSPeak.com regarding their production of a T-Shirt bearing the inscription "A Prairie Ho Companion".[23]

In 2006, after a visit to a United Methodist Church in Highland Park, TX, Keillor created a local controversy with his remarks about the event,[24] including the rhetorical suggestion of a connection between event attendees and supporters of torture and a statement creating an impression of political intimidation: "I walked in, was met by two burly security men ... and within 10 minutes was told by three people that this was the Bush's church and that it would be better if I didn't talk about politics." The security detail is purportedly routine for the venue, and according to attendees Keillor did not interact with any audience members between his arrival and his lecture.[25] Prior to Keillor's remarks, participants in the event had considered the visit to have been cordial and warm.[26]

In 2007, Keillor wrote a column which, in part, criticized "stereotypical" gay parents, who he said were "sardonic fellows with fussy hair who live in over-decorated apartments with a striped sofa and a small weird dog and who worship campy performers."[27] In response to the strong reactions of many readers, Keillor said

I live in a small world...in which gayness is as common as having brown eyes.... But in the larger world, gayness is controversial...and so gay people feel besieged to some degree and rightly so.... My column spoke as we would speak in my small world and it was read by people in the larger world and thus the misunderstanding.[28]

In 2008, Keillor created a controversy in St. Paul when he filed a lawsuit against his neighbors' plans to build an addition on their home, citing his need for "light and air" and a view of "open space and beyond". Keillor's home is significantly larger than others in his neighborhood and would still be significantly larger than his neighbors' planned addition.9] Keillor came to an undisclosed settlement with his neighbors shortly after the story became public.

In May 2008, Keillor wrote a controversial article entitled "The Roar of Hollow Patriotism", criticizing the "Rolling Thunder" parade in Washington D.C. on Memorial Day.[31] The “Rolling Thunder” parade is an event that honors and commemorates all United States veterans, and is sponsored by Rolling Thunder, Inc. - a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization that participates in veterans charities and legislation lobbying for military veterans and personnel.[32] The article depicts the biker subculture with negative imagery. He describes the participating bikers as "fat men with ponytails on Harleys" and further depicts them as "grown men playing soldier, making a great hullaballoo without exposing themselves to danger, other than getting drunk and falling off a bike".[31]

Voiceover work

Due to his distinctive voice, Keillor is often used as a voiceover actor. Some notable appearances include:

Voiceover artist for Honda UK's "the Power of Dreams" campaign. The campaign's most memorable advert is the 2003 Honda Accord commercial entitled "Cog", which features a Rube Goldberg Machine made entirely of car parts. The commercial ends with Keillor asking, "Isn't it nice when things just work?"[33] Since then, Keillor has voiced the tagline for most if not all Honda UK advertisements, and even sang the voiceover in the 2004 Honda Diesel commercial entitled "Grr". His most recent advert was a reworking of an existing commercial with digitally added England flags to tie in with the World Cup. Keillor's tagline was "Come on England, keep the dream alive".

Voice of the Norse god Odin in an episode of the Disney animated series "Hercules."

Voice of Walt Whitman and other historical figures in Ken Burns's documentary series The Civil War.

Cultural references

His style, particularly his speaking voice, is often the subject of parody. The Simpsons parodies Keillor in an episode where Homer is shown watching a Keillor-like monologist on television, and upon hitting the set, exclaiming "Stupid TV! Be more funny!", which has become one of The Simpsons' oft-quoted catchphrases. [34]

One Boston radio critic likens Keillor and his "down comforter voice" to "a hypnotist intoning, 'You are getting sleepy now'", while noting that Keillor does play to listeners' intelligence.[35] Keillor rarely reads his monologue from a script.

In the bonus DVD material for the album Venue Songs by band They Might Be Giants, John Hodgman delivers a fictitious newscast in which he explains that "The Artist Formerly Known as Public Radio Host Garrison Keillor" and his "legacy of Midwestern pledge-drive funk" inspired the band's first "venue song".[36]

Fellow Minnesotan, radio host, comedian, actor and political candidate Al Franken, defending his decision to leave Minnesota for a career in show business, commented during a speech in February 2004 in Manchester, New Hampshire that "we can't all be Garrison Keillor." Pennsylvanian singer-songwriter Tom Flannery wrote a song in 2003 entitled, "I Want a Job Like Garrison Keillor's."[37]

Bibliography

Keillor's work in print includes:

[edit] Lake Wobegon

Lake Wobegon Days (1985), ISBN 0-14-013161-2; a recorded version of this won a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word or Non-musical Album in 1988

Leaving Home (1987; collection of Lake Wobegon stories), ISBN 0-670-81976-X

We Are Still Married (1989; collection including some Lake Wobegon stories), ISBN 0-670-82647-2

Wobegon Boy (1997), ISBN 0-670-87807-3

Lake Wobegon Summer 1956 (2001), ISBN 0-571-21014-7

Pontoon: A Novel of Lake Wobegon (2007), ISBN 0-670-06356-8

Liberty: A Novel of Lake Wobegon (2008), ISBN 0-670-01991-7

[edit] Other

Happy to be Here (1982), ISBN 0-06-811201-7

WLT: A Radio Romance, (1991), ISBN 0-670-81857-7

A Visit to Mark Twain's House audio (1992), ISBN 0-942110-82-X

The Book of Guys (1993), ISBN 0-670-84943-X

The Sandy Bottom Orchestra (with Jenny Lind Nilsson, 1996), ISBN 0-7868-1250-8

Me, by Jimmy "Big Boy" Valente (1999), ISBN 0-670-88796-X

Good Poems (2002), ISBN 0-670-03126-7

Love Me (2003), ISBN 0-670-03246-8

Homegrown Democrat (2004), ISBN 0-670-03365-0

Good Poems for Hard Times (2005), ISBN 0-670-03436-3

-------------------- http://www.radiohof.org/comedy/garrisonkeillor.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garrison_Keillor

Gary Edward "Garrison" Keillor (born August 7, 1942) is an American author, storyteller, humorist, and radio personality. He is known as host of the Minnesota Public Radio show A Prairie Home Companion (also known as Garrison Keillor's Radio Show on United Kingdom's BBC Radio 4 Extra, as well as on RTÉ in Ireland, Australia's ABC, and Radio New Zealand National in New Zealand).

Personal life

Keillor was born in Anoka, Minnesota, the son of Grace Ruth (née Denham) and John Philip Keillor, who was a carpenter and postal worker. His father had English ancestry, partly by way of Canada (Keillor's paternal grandfather was from Kingston, Ontario). His maternal grandparents were Scottish immigrants, from Glasgow. The family belonged to the Plymouth Brethren, a fundamentalist Christian denomination Keillor has since left. He is six feet, three inches (1.9 m) tall. Keillor is a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. In 2006 he told Christianity Today that he was attending the Episcopal church in Saint Paul, after previously attending a Lutheran church in New York. He graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor's degree in English in 1966. While there, he began his broadcasting career on the student-operated radio station known today as Radio K.

Keillor has been married three times:

To Mary Guntzel, from 1965 to 1976. The couple has one son, Jason, born in 1969.

To Ulla Skaerved (a former exchange student from Denmark at Keillor's high school whom he famously re-encountered at a class reunion), from 1985 to 1990.

To violinist Jenny Lind Nilsson (b. 1957), who is from his hometown of Anoka, since 1995. They have one daughter, Maia Grace Keillor, born December 29, 1997.

Between his first and second marriages, he was also romantically involved with Margaret Moos, who worked as a producer of A Prairie Home Companion.

The Keillors maintain homes on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and in Saint Paul, Minnesota. One of his brothers, the historian Steven Keillor, is also an author. In the summer of 2001, Garrison Keillor had mitral valve surgery on his heart.

On September 7, 2009, Keillor was briefly hospitalized after suffering a minor stroke. He returned to work a few days later.

Ancestors

In his book Homegrown Democrat (2004), Keillor mentions some of his noteworthy ancestors, including Joseph Crandall, who was an associate of Roger Williams (who founded the first American Baptist church as well as Rhode Island); and Prudence Crandall, who founded the first African-American women's school in America.

Career

Radio

Garrison Keillor started his professional radio career in November 1969 with Minnesota Educational Radio (MER), now Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) and distributing programs under the American Public Media (APM) brand. He hosted The Morning Program in the weekday drive time slot of 6 to 9 a.m. on KSJR 90.1 FM at St. John's University in Collegeville, which the station called "A Prairie Home Entertainment." The show's eclectic music was a major divergence from the station's usual classical fare. During this time he also began submitting fiction to The New Yorker, where his first story, "Local Family Keeps Son Happy," appeared on September 19, 1970.

Keillor resigned from The Morning Program in February 1971 to protest what he considered an attempt to interfere with his musical programming (as part of his protest, he played nothing but the Beach Boys' "Help Me, Rhonda" during a show). The show became A Prairie Home Companion when he returned in October.

Keillor has attributed the idea for the live Saturday night radio program to his 1973 assignment to write about the Grand Ole Opry for The New Yorker, but he had already begun showcasing local musicians on the morning show, despite limited studio space for them, and in August 1973 The Minneapolis Tribune reported MER's plans for a Saturday night version of A Prairie Home Companion with live musicians.

A Prairie Home Companion debuted as an old-style variety show before a live audience on July 6, 1974, featuring guest musicians and a cadre cast doing musical numbers and comic skits replete with elaborate live sound effects. The show was punctuated by spoof commercial spots from such fictitious sponsors as Jack's Auto Repair ("All tracks lead to Jack's where the bright shining lights show you the way to complete satisfaction") and Powdermilk Biscuits, which "give shy persons the strength to get up and do what needs to be done." Later imaginary sponsors have included Ralph's Pretty Good Grocery ("If you can't find it at Ralph's, you can probably get along without it"), Bertha's Kitty Boutique, the Ketchup Advisory Board (which touted "the natural mellowing agents of ketchup"), the American Duct Tape Council, and Bebop-A-Reebop Rhubarb Pie ("sweetening the sour taste of failure through the generations"). The show also contains parodic serial melodramas, such as The Adventures of Guy Noir, Private Eye and The Lives of the Cowboys. After the show's intermission, Keillor reads clever and often humorous greetings to friends and family at home submitted by members of the theater audience in exchange for an honorarium.

Also in the second half of the show, the broadcasts showcase a weekly monologue by Keillor entitled The News from Lake Wobegon. The town is based in part on Keillor's own hometown of Anoka, Minnesota, and in part on Freeport and other towns in Stearns County, where he lived in the early 1970s. Lake Wobegon is a quintessential but fictional Minnesotan small town "where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average." A Prairie Home Companion ran until 1987, when Keillor decided to end it; he worked on other projects, including another live radio program, "The American Radio Company of the Air" — which had almost the same format as A Prairie Home Companion's — for several years. In 1993 he began producing A Prairie Home Companion again, in a format nearly identical to the original's, and has done so since. On A Prairie Home Companion, Keillor receives no billing or credit (except "written by Sarah Bellum," a joking reference to his own brain); his name is not mentioned unless a guest addresses him by his first name or the initials "G. K.," though some sketches feature Keillor as his alter ego, Carson Wyler.

A Prairie Home Companion regularly goes on the road and is broadcast live from popular venues around the United States, often featuring local celebrities and skits incorporating local color. In April 2000, he took the programme to Edinburgh, Scotland and gave two performances in the city's Queen's Hall. These were broadcast by BBC Radio on 1 and 8 April. He also toured Scotland with the program to celebrate its 25th anniversary.

Keillor also sometimes gives broadcast performances of a similar nature that do not carry the "Prairie Home Companion" brand, as in his 2008 appearance at the Oregon Bach Festival.

In a March 2011 interview with the AARP Bulletin, Keillor announced that he would be retiring from A Prairie Home Companion in 2013, but in a December 2011 interview with the Sioux City Journal, Keillor told the interviewer "The show is going well. I love doing it. Why quit?" His publicist later confirmed that "He doesn't have any specific plans to retire. He's still having a lot of fun doing the show."

Keillor is also the host of The Writer's Almanac which, like A Prairie Home Companion, is produced and distributed by American Public Media. The Writer's Almanac is also available online and via daily e-mail installments by subscription.

Writing

Keillor has been called "[o]ne of the most perceptive and witty commentators about Midwestern life" by Randall Balmer in Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism. He has written numerous magazine and newspaper articles and more than a dozen books for adults as well as children. In addition to writing for The New Yorker, he has written for The Atlantic Monthly and Salon.com.

He also authored an advice column at Salon.com under the name "Mr. Blue." Following a heart operation, he resigned on September 4, 2001, his last column being titled "Every dog has his day":

Illness offers the chance to think long thoughts about the future (praying that we yet have one, dear God), and so I have, and so this is the last column of Mr. Blue, under my authorship, for Salon. Over the years, Mr. Blue's strongest advice has come down on the side of freedom in our personal lives, freedom from crushing obligation and overwork and family expectations and the freedom to walk our own walk and be who we are. And some of the best letters have been addressed to younger readers trapped in jobs like steel suits, advising them to bust loose and go off and have an adventure. Some of the advisees have written back to inform Mr. Blue that the advice was taken and that the adventure changed their lives. This was gratifying. So now I am simply taking my own advice. Cut back on obligations: Promote a certain elegant looseness in life. Simple as that. Winter and spring, I almost capsized from work, and in the summer I had a week in St. Mary's Hospital to sit and think, and that's the result. Every dog has his day and I've had mine and given whatever advice was mine to give (and a little more). It was exhilarating to get the chance to be useful, which is always an issue for a writer (What good does fiction do?), and Mr. Blue was a way to be useful. Nothing human is beneath a writer's attention; the basic questions about how to attract a lover and what to do with one once you get one and how to deal with disappointment in marriage are the stuff that fiction is made from, so why not try to speak directly? And so I did. And now it's time to move on.

In 2004 Keillor published a collection of political essays, Homegrown Democrat, and in June 2005 he began a column called "The Old Scout", which ran at Salon.com and in syndicated newspapers. The column went on hiatus in April 2010 "so that he [could] finish a screenplay and start writing a novel".

Keillor wrote the screenplay for the 2006 movie A Prairie Home Companion, directed by Robert Altman. (Keillor also appears in the movie.)

Bookselling

On November 1, 2006, Keillor opened an independent bookstore, "Common Good Books, G. Keillor, Prop." in the Blair Arcade Building at the southwest corner of Selby and N. Western Avenues in the Cathedral Hill area in the Summit-University neighborhood of Saint Paul, Minnesota. The bookstore's opening was covered by the St. Paul Pioneer Press. In April 2012, the store moved to a new location across Snelling Ave from Macalester College in the Macalester-Groveland neighborhood.

Voiceover work

Probably owing in part to his distinctive North Central accent, Keillor is often used as a voiceover actor. Some notable appearances include:

Voiceover artist for Honda UK's "the Power of Dreams" campaign. The campaign's most memorable advertisement is the 2003 Honda Accord commercial Cog, which features a Heath Robinson contraption (or Rube Goldberg Machine) made entirely of car parts. The commercial ends with Keillor asking, "Isn't it nice when things just work?" Since then, Keillor has voiced the tagline for most if not all UK Honda advertisements, and even sang the voiceover in the 2004 Honda Diesel commercial "Grrr". His most recent ad was a reworking of an existing commercial with digitally added England flags to tie in with the World Cup. Keillor's tagline was "Come on, England, keep the dream alive."

Voice of the Norse god Odin in an episode of the Disney animated series Hercules.

Voice of Walt Whitman and other historical figures in Ken Burns's documentary series The Civil War and Baseball.

Controversies

In 2005, Keillor's attorneys sent a cease-and-desist letter to MNSpeak.com regarding their production of a T-shirt bearing the inscription "A Prairie Ho Companion."

In 2006, after a visit to a United Methodist Church in Highland Park, Texas, Keillor created a local controversy with his remarks about the event, including the rhetorical suggestion of a connection between event participants and supporters of torture and a statement creating an impression of political intimidation: "I walked in, was met by two burly security men ... and within 10 minutes was told by three people that this was the Bushes' church and that it would be better if I didn't talk about politics." The security detail is purportedly routine for the venue, and according to participants, Keillor did not interact with any audience members between his arrival and his lecture.[40] Supposedly, before Keillor's remarks, participants in the event had considered the visit to have been cordial and warm.

In 2007, Keillor wrote a column that in part criticized "stereotypical" gay parents, who he said were "sardonic fellows with fussy hair who live in over-decorated apartments with a striped sofa and a small weird dog and who worship campy performers." In response to the strong reactions of many readers, Keillor said

I live in a small world -- the world of entertainment, musicians, writers -- in which gayness is as common as having brown eyes.... And in that small world, we talk openly and we kid each other a lot. But in the larger world, gayness is controversial ... and so gay people feel besieged to some degree and rightly so.... My column spoke as we would speak in my small world, and it was read by people in the larger world and thus the misunderstanding. And for that, I am sorry. Gay people who set out to be parents can be just as good parents as anybody else, and they know that, and so do I.

In 2008, Keillor created a controversy in St. Paul when he filed a lawsuit against his neighbors' plans to build an addition on their home, citing his need for "light and air" and a view of "open space and beyond". Keillor's home is significantly larger than others in his neighborhood and would still be significantly larger than his neighbors' with its planned addition. Keillor came to an undisclosed settlement with his neighbors shortly after the story became public.

In popular culture

Keillor's style, particularly his speaking voice, is often the subject of parody. The Simpsons parodied him in an episode in which the family is shown watching a Keillor-like monologist on television; they are perplexed at why the studio audience is laughing so much, prompting Homer to ask "What the hell's so funny?" and Bart to suggest "Maybe it's the TV." Homer then hits the set, exclaiming: "Stupid TV! Be more funny!" Harry Shearer, who portrayed the Keillor sound-alike, has also parodied Keillor on Shearer's own public radio series, Le Show.

One Boston radio critic likens Keillor and his "down-comforter voice" to "a hypnotist intoning, 'You are getting sleepy now'," while noting that Keillor does play to listeners' intelligence. Keillor rarely reads his monologue from a script.

In the bonus DVD material for the album Venue Songs by band They Might Be Giants, John Hodgman delivers a fictitious newscast in which he explains that "The Artist Formerly Known as Public Radio Host Garrison Keillor" and his "legacy of Midwestern pledge-drive funk" inspired the band's first "venue song."

Pennsylvanian singer-songwriter Tom Flannery wrote a song in 2003 entitled "I Want a Job Like Garrison Keillor's."

On the November 19, 2011, episode of Saturday Night Live, cast member Bill Hader impersonated Keillor in a sketch depicting celebrities auditioning to replace Regis Philbin as co-host of Live! with Kelly.

Awards and other recognition

Peabody Award for "A Prairie Home Companion," a nostalgic radio-variety gem, in 1980.

Keillor received a Medal for Spoken Language from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1990.

In 1994, Keillor was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.

He received a National Humanities Medal from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1999.

"Welcome to Minnesota" markers in interstate rest areas near the state's borders include statements such as "Like its neighbors, the thirty-second state grew as a collection of small farm communities, many settled by immigrants from Scandinavia and Germany. Two of the nation's favorite fictional small towns -- Sinclair Lewis's Gopher Prairie and Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon -- reflect that heritage."

In 2007, The Moth, a NYC-based not-for-profit storytelling organization, awarded Garrison Keillor the first The Moth Award - Honoring the Art of the Raconteur at the annual Moth Ball.

In September 2007, Keillor was awarded the 2007 John Steinbeck Award, given to artists who capture "the spirit of Steinbeck's empathy, commitment to democratic values, and belief in the dignity of the common man."

Keillor received a Grammy Award in 1988 for his recording of Lake Wobegon Days.

He has also received two CableACE Awards and a George Foster Peabody Award.

Bibliography

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garrison_Keillor#Bibliography

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Garrison Keillor's Timeline

1942
August 7, 1942
Anoka, Anoka County, Minnesota, United States
1965
1965
Age 22
1985
1985
Age 42
1990
1990
Age 47
1995
1995
Age 52
????
- 1966
Minnesota, United States
????
- present
Minnesota Public Radio