Herbert Buckingham Khaury (April 12, 1932 – November 30, 1996), known professionally as Tiny Tim, was an American singer, ukulele player, and musical archivist. He is best remembered for his rendition of "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" sung in a high falsetto/vibrato voice.
Tiny Tim was born in Manhattan, New York City on April 12, 1932. His parents were Tillie (née Staff), a garment worker, who was the daughter of a rabbi. She had immigrated from Brest-Litovsk as a teen in 1914. Tiny's father, Butros Khaury, a textile worker, was from Beirut, Lebanon and his father was a Maronite Christian priest.
He displayed musical talent at a very young age. In a 1968 interview on The Tonight Show, he described the discovery of his ability to sing in an upper register in 1952: "I was listening to the radio and singing along; as I was singing I said 'Gee, it's strange. I can go up high as well.'" He then entered a local talent show and sang "You Are My Sunshine" in his newly discovered falsetto. Although he stood 6'1", he started using the stage name Tiny Tim in 1963 at the suggestion of his manager George King.
Life and career
Tiny Tim appeared in Jack Smith's Normal Love (1963), as well as the independent feature film You Are What You Eat (1968) in which he sang the Ronettes song "Be My Baby" in his falsetto range; also featured was a rendition of Sonny and Cher's "I Got You Babe", with Tim singing the Cher parts in his falsetto voice, along with Eleanor Barooshian singing Sonny Bono's baritone part. These tracks were recorded with musicians who went on to be in The Band. The "I Got You Babe" performance led to a booking on the Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, an American television comedy-variety show. Co-host Dan Rowan announced that Laugh-In believed in showcasing new talent, and introduced Tiny Tim. The singer entered carrying a shopping bag, pulled his soprano ukulele from it, and sang a medley of "A Tisket A Tasket" and "On The Good Ship Lollipop" as an apparently dumbfounded co-host Dick Martin watched. In his third performance on Laugh-In, Tiny Tim entered blowing kisses, preceded by an elaborate procession of the cast and, after a short interview, he sang "Tiptoe Through the Tulips".
In 1968, his first album God Bless Tiny Tim was released. It contained an orchestrated version of "Tiptoe Through the Tulips", which became a hit after being released as a single. For All My Little Friends (1969) was a collection of children's songs and was nominated for a Grammy Award.
Tiny Tim was married three times and had one daughter from his first marriage to Victoria Budinger (also known as "Miss Vicki"). Tiny Tim married Miss Vicki on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson on December 17, 1969, with 40 million people watching. Daughter Tulip Victoria was born in 1971. During their marriage, Tiny Tim and Miss Vicki lived mostly apart, and they divorced eight years later in 1977. He married Jan Alweiss ("Miss Jan") in 1984, and Susan Marie Gardner ("Miss Sue") in 1995. When Tiny Tim first became well-known to the American public, pundits and journalists debated whether this character being presented was just an orchestrated act or the real thing. "It quickly became clear that he was genuine," however, and that he could probably be best described as "a lonely outcast intoxicated by fame" and "a romantic" always in pursuit of his ideal dream.
After his career highlights, Tiny Tim's television appearances dwindled, and his popularity began to wane. He continued to play around the United States, making several lucrative appearances in Las Vegas. When his recording contract ended with Reprise, he founded his own record label and humorously named it Vic Tim Records, as a pun on the combination of his wife's name with that of his own. He performed with the American alternative rock band Camper Van Beethoven in 1986. In the 1990s, he released several albums, including Rock (1993), I Love Me (1993), and Girl (1996).
Tiny Tim was published in 1976 by Playboy Press, a biography by Harry Stein.