Waxing Nostalgic Over Classic TV

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tiny Tim Tiptoes Through the Tulips!

"Knee deep in flowers we'll stray, we'll keep the showers away..."

Travel back in time to the late 60's and witness a genuine show-business break. When Herbert Butros Khaury (hey, didn't he used to head up the UN?) decided to change his name to Tiny Tim, little did he know what big things were in store for him.

When he appeared on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In (above), singing his signature tune, Tiptoe Through the Tulips, it was indeed his big break. He went on to appear on Ed Sullivan and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, among others. In fact, when the 37-year-old crooner got married on The Tonight Show to the lovely Miss Vicki (17-year-old Victoria May Budinger), it generated one of their largest audiences ever (40 million). The couple got divorced three years later, but not before they produced a daughter, Tulip Victoria, in 1971.

The Timster was definitely one-of-a-kind. Most folks weren't quite sure what to make of him. Was he putting everybody on? Was it a big joke? Or was he just an eccentric entertainer? Although his novelty act wore off after a few years and his star dimmed, he continued to perform until the very end.

In September of 1996, while playing at a ukelele festival, Tiny Tim suffered a serious heart attack. His doctor warned him that he could die if he continued to perform. Two months later, ignoring his doctor's advice, he took to the stage at the Women's Club of Minneapolis, started singing "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" and suffered a fatal heart attack. He was 64 years old.

In the video below, Tiny sings a duet with his beloved Miss Vicki from a 1971 television show. You'll notice that when he sang in his natural baritone voice, instead of his falsetto, he was actually quite good.

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