Friday, November 30, 2012

Tiny Tim's Tiptoe Through the Tulips of Life

Tiny Tim
Tiny Tim, known for playing the ukulele and singing songs in a falsetto voice, was regarded by many as a novelty act of the sixties. He has been called eccentric, unique, and bizarre for his style of music and persona.

Butros and Tillie Khaury
Tiny Tim was born as Herbert B. Khaury in New York City on April 12, 1932 to Butros Khaury, a textile worker, and Tillie (Staff) Khaury, a garment worker.

Greenwich Village
Herbert Khaury
He grew up in New York, displaying musical talent at a young age.  When he discovered the music of the early 1900’s, he began performing it.  In 1952, he started singing in falsetto and performing under the name of Larry Love. He made his performing debut at a cabaret called Page 3 in Greenwich Village.  In 1962, he began using the name Tiny Tim after casting aside such names as Darry Dover, Vernon Castle, and Larry Love.  At a height of 6’1” the name drew attention.  He continued to perform in Greenwich Village, building a cult following for his unique musical style.

Tiny Tim on Laugh-In
Tiptoe Through the Tulips
His big break came in 1967 when he appeared on Rowen and Martin’s variety show, Laugh-In.  He sang A Tisket A Tasket and On the Good Ship Lollipop while accompanying himself on a soprano ukulele. On his third visit to the show he sang what was to become his theme song, Tiptoe Through the Tulips.

Sixties Crowd
First Album
Tiny Tim developed a cult following and became a true icon of the sixties.  He released his first album, God Bless Tiny Tim in 1968.  He said the album name was a reference to Charles Dickens' “A Christmas Carol.”  The album sold over 200,000 copies and reached the Top 20.

For All My Little Friends
In 1969, he recorded a collection of children’s song on the album, For All My Little Friends, which was nominated for a Grammy.

With Vickie Budinger
Married on the Tonight Show
On December 17, 1969, in front of 45 million viewers of the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Tiny Tim married Miss Vicki  - his seventeen-year-old girlfriend, Victoria Mae Budinger. They had one child, in 1971, a daughter named Tulip Victoria.  The couple lived apart for most of their marriage, divorcing eight years later. 

Great American Circus
At the height of his popularity, Tiny Tim performed on the Jackie Gleason and Ed Sullivan shows.  He played in front of 600,000 people at the Isle of Wight festival in 1970.   As quickly as his popularity rose, it began to wane.  His last appearance on the Tonight Show was during the summer of 1979.  During the eighties, he performed with Roy Radin’s Vaudeville Revue, and toured with the Great American Circus for seven months.

Jan and Tim
In 1984, he married again, this time to Jan Alweiss Kaury, known as Miss Jan.  He preferred to live alone, so he and his wife lived in neighboring houses and would visit each other.  They divorced in 1995.

Tiny Tim continued to perform and release albums, his last being Girl in 1996.  He now sang in his normal baritone voice. The only song he continued to sing in falsetto was his signature song, Tiptoe Through the Tulips.

In 1995, Tiny Tim married Susan Marie Gardner, known as Miss Sue.  They lived in Minneapolis.

Before the show with Fred Fallin
In September 1996, Tiny Tim was performing at a ukulele festival in Montague, Massachusetts, when he suffered a heart attack.  He was hospitalized at the local medical center for three weeks.  When released he was told not to perform again. The stress of a live performance would be too risky on his heart.

Woman's Club of Minneapolis
Disregarding doctor’s orders, Tiny Tim took to the stage for a Gala Benefit at the Woman’s Club of Minneapolis on November 30, 1996.  He suffered another heart attack on stage and died at the Hennepin County Medical Center. He was 64 years old.

Tiny Tim's Crypt
Lakewood Mausoleum
Tiny Tim was interred in a mausoleum in Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was laid to rest with his ukulele and a single tulip.

~ Joy

As an aside – I had the opportunity to meet Tiny Tim and interview him for a radio program in 1985.  He was very polite and cordial, maintaining a wispy, falsetto voice throughout the interview.  And, yes, he brought his ukulele and sang Tiptoe Through the Tulips

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