Garrison Keillor (born Gary Edward Keillor on August 7, 1942 in Anoka, Minnesota) is an American author, storyteller, humorist, columnist, musician, satirist, and radio personality. He is known as host of the Minnesota Public Radio show "A Prairie Home Companion".
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.
Keillor graduated from Anoka High School in 1960 and from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor's degree in English in 1966. During college, he began his broadcasting career on the student-operated radio station known today as Radio K.
Keillor has been married three times.
Garrison Keillor started his professional radio career in November 1969 with Minnesota Educational Radio, now Minnesota Public Radio. He hosted The Morning Program on weekdays from 6 to 9 a.m. on KSJR 90.1 FM at St. John's University, 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 a perceived attempt to interfere with his musical programming. The show became A Prairie Home Companion when he returned in October.
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 fictitious sponsors such as Powdermilk Biscuits. The show also contains parodic serial melodramas, such as The Adventures of Guy Noir, Private Eye and The Lives of the Cowboys. Keillor voices Noir and other recurring characters, and also provides vocals for some of the show's musical numbers.
A Prairie Home Companion ran until 1987, when Keillor decided to end it to focus on other projects. In 1989, he launched another live radio program from New York City, "The American Radio Company of the Air" — which had almost the same format as A Prairie Home Companion's. In 1992, he moved ARC back to St. Paul, and a year later changed the name back to A Prairie Home Companion; it has remained a Saturday night fixture ever since.
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. He has also written for Salon.com and authored an advice column at Salon.com under the name "Mr. Blue."
In 2004 Keillor published a collection of political essays, Homegrown Democrat: A Few Plain Thoughts from the Heart of America, 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.
Keillor wrote the screenplay for the 2006 movie A Prairie Home Companion, directed by Robert Altman. (Keillor also appears in the movie.)
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