Who is Garrison Keillor?
Garrison Keillor is the legendary radio host of the well-known live radio variety show ‘A Prairie Home Companion’. Also an acclaimed author, Keillor has published more than 15 books and is a regular columnist for ‘Time Magazine’ and ‘Atlantic Monthly’ and has also published his stories in ‘The New Yorker’. He continues to write for a variety of publications and some of his bestselling books include ‘Lake Wobegon Days’, ‘Homegrown Democrat’ and ‘WLT: A Radio Romance’. He has received numerous awards such as the Peabody Award, Grammy Award and finds a place in the Radio Hall of Fame. Widely admired and regarded as ‘a modern day Mark Twain’, Garrison Keillor has established himself as one of the most popular personalities in the American entertainment industry. Known for his keen perspective, witty remarks and good sense of humor, Garrison Keillor seldom reads a monologue or follows a typical scriptural format. He also wrote the screenplay for the 2006 movie ‘A Prairie Home Companion’.
Childhood & Early Life
Gary Edward Garrison Keillor was born in Anoka, Minnesota to John Philip Keillor, a postal worker and carpenter, and Grace Ruth. His family followed the conservative Evangelical Christian movement.
In 1966, he received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Minnesota. At the university, he was part of Radio K, a radio station operated by the student community.
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In 1969, he began his career as a radio professional and hosted the morning radio show with the Minnesota Educational Radio, presently called the Minnesota Public Radio.
On September 19, 1970, his story titled ‘Local Family Keeps Son Happy’ was published in ‘The New Yorker’.
In 1971, he resigned from the Minnesota Educational Radio as he was not happy with the interference in his musical programming but later re-joined in October that year when the radio was re-named ‘A Prairie Home Companion’.
On July 6, 1974, ‘A Prairie Home Companion’ hosted its first one of its kind variety show to live audiences. The show also consisted of live musicians, live sound effects and a team of dancers.
In 1985, his novel ‘Lake Wobegon Days’, which was a humorous fictional story about life in Lake Wobegon was published. The book became an international bestseller.
In 1987, he ended the programme ‘A Prairie Home Companion’ and went on to pursue other radio projects, including the ‘The American Radio Company of the Air’.
In 1991, his book titled ‘WLT: A Radio Romance’ was published. The book was on ‘The New York Times’ bestseller list and received positive critical reviews.
In 1993, he re-opened and produced the radio show ‘A Prairie Home Companion’. It followed the similar pattern of the original show with minor alterations.
In 2000, he travelled to Edinburgh, Scotland, where he performed twice on the re-opened radio show ‘A Prairie Home Companion’ in Queens Hall. These shows were aired on the BBC radio.
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In 2004, his collection of political essays titled ‘Homegrown Democrat’ was published. The following year, he started writing a column called ‘The Old Scout’, which was published in salon.com.
He wrote the screenplay for the 2006 movie ‘A Prairie Home Companion’, an ensemble comedy that was directed by Robert Atman.
In 2008, he delivered a broadcast performance at The Oregon Bach Festival, an annual festival hosted in honour of musician, Johann Sebastian Bach.
He authored the internationally acclaimed bestselling book ‘Lake Wobegon Days’. The recorded version of the novel received the Grammy Award in the category, ‘Best Spoken Word or Non-Musical Album’.
Awards & Achievements
In 1980, he received the Peabody Award for the radio show, ‘A Prairie Home Companion’.
In 1990, he was awarded a medal by the American Academy of Arts and Letters for ‘Spoken Language’.
In 1994, he was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.
In 1999, he received the National Humanities Medal from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
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In 2007, he received the John Steinbeck Award. It was bestowed upon him for ‘the spirit of Steinbeck's empathy, commitment to democratic values, and belief in the dignity of the common man’.
Personal Life & Legacy
From 1965 to 1976, he was married to Mary Guntzel and the couple had a son, Jason.
After his divorce, he was romantically involved with Margaret Moos, a producer.
In 1985, he married Ulla Skaerved, whom he met at a high school reunion. The marriage ended in 1990.
In 1995, he married Jenny Lind Nilsson, a violinist and the couple live in Anoka along with their daughter, Maia.
In 2001, he underwent mitral valve operation for his heart.
In 2009, he suffered a minor stroke due to which he had to be hospitalised for a few days.
In 2008, this prominent Grammy Award winning American radio personality filed a law suit against his neighbours as they were planning to expand their house.