Biography (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Gary Edward Keillor was born August 7, 1942, in Anoka, Minnesota, the son of John Philip and Grace Ruth Denham Keillor. His father was a railway mail clerk and carpenter. Keillor attended the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis, where he worked as a staff announcer for the campus station, KUOM radio, from 1963 to 1968. This job began a long career in radio, during which he took the more formal Garrison Keillor as his professional name. He married Mary C. Guntzel on September 11, 1965, and they had a son, Jason.
Keillor received a B.A. from the University of Minnesota in 1966 and briefly sought a writing job in New York. He had hoped to join the staff of The New Yorker, a magazine he had admired since boyhood. He was not at that time successful, so he continued in broadcasting. In 1971, he began working as an announcer and producer with Minnesota Public Radio in St. Paul. In 1974, he launched the highly successful weekly program A Prairie Home Companion, for which he served as host and principal writer. He was divorced in May, 1976.
A Prairie Home Companion, inspired by the Grand Ole Opry radio program, was broadcast live before a theater audience on Saturday nights. The program initially ran for more than a decade. It was carried by more than two hundred public radio stations and was televised during...
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Biography (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
The titles of four of Keillor’s first books and the order of their publication serve as a summary statement of the first part of his career. In Happy to Be Here, a major comedic talent appears on the literary scene. Lake Wobegon Days showcases his powers of invention and his impressive prose style in a sustained narrative. Leaving Home announces that the author’s Lake Wobegon period is coming an end. In We Are Still Married, Keillor’s center of consciousness is no longer located in the Midwest. It can now be found in New York City. Perhaps the title is both a plea and a pledge to the readers who loved Lake Wobegon so much. Indeed, they loved it so much that, in time, the author returned to Minnesota and brought, as Wobegon Boy and Lake Wobegon Summer 1956 reveal, his old subject matter with him.
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Biography (Critical Survey of Short Fiction, Second Revised Edition)
Garrison Keillor’s roots in small-town Minnesota provided him with the particular brand of midwestern humor that brought him fame and on which he continued to capitalize even after relocating to New York City. Born Gary Edward Keillor, he was the third of six children in the family of John P. Keillor, a railway mail clerk and carpenter, and Grace Denham Keillor. When he was in the eighth grade, he adopted the pen name “Garrison” in place of his given names because, he said, he believed that it sounded “more formidable.” He grew up just north of Minneapolis, Minnesota, south of the small town of Anoka in what has since become Brooklyn Park. After his 1960 graduation from Anoka High School, he enrolled in the University of Minnesota, authored a regular column, published stories in the student magazine The Ivory Tower, which he later edited, and was student announcer for KUOM, the university radio station. He received a B.A. in English and journalism in 1966, went to New York in an unsuccessful attempt to land a job as a writer, returned to work on a master’s degree in English, and then took a job with KSJR-FM in Collegeville, the first station in the Minnesota Public Radio network.
Keillor spent fourteen years on and off, from 1968 to 1982, as a disc jockey in St. Paul, Minnesota. His earliest program, The Prairie Home Morning Show, eventually included anecdotes about a mythical Midwestern place that he called Lake Wobegon,...
(The entire section is 655 words.)
Biography (Critical Survey of Long Fiction, Fourth Edition)
Garrison Keillor was born Gary Edward Keillor on August 7, 1942, to Grace Denham Keillor and John Keillor of Anoka, Minnesota. He was the third of six children. He graduated from Anoka High School in 1960 and completed a bachelor’s degree with a major in English from the University of Minnesota in 1966. He was raised in the Sanctified Brethren Christian denomination, but he later became an Episcopalian. He has been married three times: to Mary Guntzel (1965-1976), Ulla Skaerved (1985-1990), and Jenny Lind Nilsson (1995-present). He is the father of a son, Jason, with Guntzel and a daughter, Maia, with Nilsson. He has lived in New York, Denmark, and Wisconsin, and now resides in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Keillor, who was already hosting a morning radio program in Minneapolis, was inspired to begin his radio variety program after writing a piece on the Grand Ole Opry for The New Yorker in 1974. He has hosted a weekly radio variety show for more than thirty years, in addition to touring with various musical groups during his show’s summer breaks. A Prairie Home Companion has become a Saturday-night institution for many public radio listeners. It consists of two hours of comedy skits, which Keillor writes himself, fake commercials for such products as Powdermilk Biscuits and Bertha’s Kitty Boutique, and live music from a variety of guests. A regular ensemble of actors performs skits that are presented as episodes of recurring “shows”...
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Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Garrison Keillor (KEE-lur) became widely known for his popular public radio program A Prairie Home Companion, a show featuring a mixture of midwestern folk humor and a variety of musical offerings. Keillor’s stories about his fictional town of Lake Wobegon established him as a major figure in the tradition of American humor. Born Gary Edward Keillor in Anoka, a small town near the Minnesota’s twin cities, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Keillor adopted the pen name of Garrison Keillor at the age of thirteen, by which time he had already become interested in writing. During his high school years, he wrote for the school newspaper until his graduation in 1960, when he enrolled at the University of Minnesota.
At the university, Keillor obtained his first radio experience by working at the campus radio station. He also wrote poetry and eventually became editor of the student literary magazine the Ivory Tower, in which he published poems, prose essays and satires, and some fiction. During a break in his academic career, he worked for several months for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Keillor’s early influences included several regular contributors to The New Yorker, notably E. B. White, S. J. Perelman, and A. J. Liebling, but the work published in the Ivory Tower shows that he was already developing an independent voice as a midwesterner drawing upon his cultural environment for the raw materials of his art.
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