‘Prairie Home’ Sound Man Dies
November 1, 2011 by staff
Keith’s death was announced Monday by Jon McTaggart, chief executive of Minnesota Public Radio and American Public Media, which distributes “A Prairie Home Companion”. He died suddenly of a heart attack after collapsing at home on Sunday, “Prairie Home” host Garrison Keillor said in a statement.
Keillor recalled Keith as “one of the great clowns of the radio.”
“He was serious about silly things and worked hard to get exactly right lowing and cackling one too, and the plot was unbelievable -.. His whinny Noble, vulnerable, articulate what made bagpipes, helicopters, mortars, common drunkards, caribou (and antelope and elk and wapiti), garbage trucks backing up, saws and hammers, and a beautiful vocal of a man falling from a great height in the piranha-infested waters, “said Keillor.
Keillor said Keith performs in “A Prairie Home” show Oct. 22 in St. Paul Fitzgerald Theater, where he made a sound effect of a primary school teacher was reduced from 6 feet 3 inches “with a balloon, some sticks and thwops splorts vocal, and then did the voice of a 3-inches tall. ”
Keith complained of shortness of breath next week, but got to see a doctor, Keillor said. The October 22 show, with guests John Lithgow, Keith was the last of “A Prairie Home” performance.
Keith had performed with Keillor since 1976, when Keillor hosted the first version of MPR “The Morning Show.” Keith worked as operator of the console, but began to appear more and more parodies Keillor produced.
“Every time Tom took the stage for a drawing, I could see the heads of the audience to turn in their direction,” said Keillor. “They could hear me, but wanted to see Tom, as you would see any magician. The children watched him closely to see how he did the shotgun blasts, the walrus singing, siren, the helicopter, water drips. Its effects were elegant, precise and discreet as the man himself. ”
When he moved to Keillor “A Prairie Home Companion” full-time co-host Keith “The Morning Show,” which appears in his alter ego of Jim Ed Poole.
He retired from that program in 2008, but continued to appear on Keillor’s show. Along with other regular cast members, who appeared as himself in the 2006 film of Robert Altman’s “A Prairie Home Companion”.
“We are stunned,” said Tim Russell, a voice actor on the show. “It was a pleasure working with her and a master of his craft. Is really going to miss him.”
Keith said he remembered for his generosity and kindness, as well as his talent.
“I always had the greatest time,” said Russell. “I really kind of reinvented the whole genre of radio sound effects, which dates back to the early days of” A Prairie Home Companion “and was so generous with the rest of us as actors and other cast members.”
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