Tiny Tim





Born Herbert Khaury on April 12th, 1933, Tiny Tim began his music career as "Larry Love" in the early '50s, touring clubs and playing his ukulele to generally disinterested audiences. It wasn't until February 5th, 1968 that Tiny Tim became a household name when he first appeared on the TV show, Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, as a gag act. Audience response was so great that he soon became a semi-regular on the program. After Johnny Carson held up a copy of his debut album "God Bless Tiny Tim" during an appearance on The Tonight Show on April 4th, the LP sold 200,000 copies. "Tip Toe Thru The Tulips With Me" was quickly released as a single and became one of the top selling songs of the year. Although no further hits followed in the US, Tim did reach #45 in the UK in 1969 with "Great Balls Of Fire" and his live shows often brought in $50,000 a week.

Through 1968 and 1969, Tim made several appearances on The Tonight Show, usually up-staging the host with his outlandish wardrobe and his strong opinions on virtually every subject. In September of '69, Tim announced to Johnny Carson on the air that he was engaged to 17 year old Victoria May Budinger. Carson, in a pre-arranged set of questions, asked Tim if he would like to get married on the show, with NBC footing the entire bill. The December 17th wedding marked Tim's most popular moment, with 40 million viewers watching him tie the knot with Miss Vicki. Several concerts, tours, and television appearances followed the wedding broadcast.

Before long, Miss Vicki was pregnant, despite the disbelief of the many who were convinced Tiny's ukulele wasn't strung in that direction. But alas, the union was short-lived. Miss Vicki left with their daughter, Tulip in 1971 and filed for divorce in March 1972, eventually becoming a go-go dancer in Camden, New Jersey. Tim moved back in with his mother in a New York City tenement.

By the early 70's, America's fascination with Tiny Tim had waned. He continued to play small clubs and oldies revival dates, even releasing albums on independent labels. Although he is best remembered for his falsetto, Tim was blessed with a beautiful natural baritone voice and his stage act consisted of covering sing-a-longs and tunes of the '30s and '40s. He found many of the songs he sang at the New York Public Library. He also appeared on The Tonight Show from time to time, but the magic was clearly gone. When a reporter asked him, "Do you ever think about what it was like when you were with Johnny and on top?", Tim replied, "From morning to night, that's all I think about."

Tim remarried in 1984 to Miss Jan, however the couple separated after a short time. In 1987 he joined the Great American Circus for 36 weeks. His multiple appearances as a musician, entertainer, and celebrity included Ed Sullivan shows, Jackie Gleason shows, Arsenio Hall, several commercials, and an MTV game show. He also participated in Howard Stern's New Year's Eve pay-per-view beauty pageant, in which he was a judge and appeared in the horror movie, Blood Harvest, in which he played a clown. He would also marry for a third time, to Susan Gardner.

After a long period of relative obscurity, Tim once again stepped into the spotlight in the mid 1990s. He re-surfaced on TV, making appearances on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and Howard Stern's TV show. He released several albums, including "Rock" and "I Love Me" in 1993 and "Girl" in 1996. The comeback was stopped short however, when on November 30th, 1996, Tiny Tim suffered a heart attack on stage and died shortly after. He is entombed in a mausoleum in Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis.

In 2000, the Rhino Handmade label issued "Tiny Tim Live at the Royal Albert Hall", which had been recorded in 1968 at the height of his fame. In 2009, Collector's Choice released some of Tiny Tim's favorite recordings from the 1800s to the 1930s on an LP entitled "I've Never Seen a Straight Banana", recorded in 1976.

Tiny Tim will always be remembered singing "Tiptoe Through The Tulips" in his falsetto voice, strumming his ukulele. With his dyed red hair and clashing outfits, he embodied all that was goofy about the late '60s.