Birthday: April 12, 1932
Died At Age: 64
Sun Sign: Aries
Also Known As: Herbert Buckingham Khaury
Born in: Manhattan, New York City, New York
Famous as: Singer
Height: 6'1" (185 cm), 6'1" Males
Spouse/Ex-: Jan Alweiss (m. 1984; div. 1995), Susan Marie Gardner (m. 1995; his death 1996), Victoria Mae Budinger (m. 1969; div. 1977)
father: Butros Khaury
mother: Tillie Staff
children: Tulip Victoria Khaury Stewart (b. 1971)
Died on: November 30, 1996
place of death: Hennepin County, Minnesota
Cause of Death: Heart Attack
City: New York City
U.S. State: New Yorkers
education: George Washington Educational Campus
Herbert Buckingham Khaury, more famous by his stage name Tiny Tim, was an American singer, musical archivist and multi-instrumentalist (particularly known for playing the ukulele). This yesteryear performer with a distinctive high-pitched falsetto voice complimented with striking appearance including shoulder-length dark curly hair is best recognised for his cover hits ‘Tiptoe Through the Tulips’, which eventually evolved as his signature song, as also ‘Livin' in the Sunlight, Lovin' in the Moonlight’. He commenced his journey in music learning to play different instruments and with time realised his ability to sing. A school drop-out, he did several odd jobs before landing up with a local talent show. He took up different stage names and performed at dance club amateur nights and then at a gay and lesbian club in Greenwich Village called ‘Page 3’. After appearing in the film ‘You Are What You Eat’, he landed up at the American sketch comedy TV show ‘Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In’ garnering popularity. Starting from this debut album ‘God Bless Tiny Tim’, he had over the years released several albums among which ‘For All My Little Friends’, a collection of children's songs, garnered a Grammy nomination.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born on April 12, 1932 in Manhattan, New York City, US to Butros Hanna Khaury and Tillie (née Staff). His father was a textile worker from Beirut, Lebanon and a Maronite Christian priest. His mother Tillie (née Staff), who immigrated from Brest-Litovsk in 1914 was a garment worker.
His musical talent was quite apparent from his childhood and it was his father who first gave the five year old boy a vintage wind up Gramophone and a 78 RPM record of Henry Burr’s ‘Beautiful Ohio’. He began learning the guitar at age six and at eleven he started learning violin. Eventually he learnt to play mandolin and ukulele with the latter becoming his signature instrument with time. He would display his early talents with oomph and style to his parents at home.
In 1945 while recovering from an appendix operation, he would spend time reading the Bible and singing along with the songs played on radio. He was a mediocre student at school and dropped out from high school after repeating his sophomore year.
Meanwhile, he developed an interest for records particularly from the 1900-30’s era. He would visit New York Public Library during his free time and go through history of phonograph industry and about initial artists of the industry. Gradually he developed a lifetime hobby of researching sheet music and would many a times make photographic copies so as to study at home.
Continue Reading Below
You May Like
He got a messenger’s job at the MGM Studios in New York sometime in the early 1950s which only furthered his interest in showbiz. He took part in a talent show where he sang ‘You Are My Sunshine’ in falsetto voice that he only recently found that he can pull of while casually singing along with a radio song.
He then started using different names like Emmett Swink and Vernon Castle and performed at dance club amateur nights. Geared up with wild clothing and flaunting shoulder-length hair (inspired by poster of long-haired Italian actor Rudolph Valentino) in addition to wearing pasty white facial makeup Tim made effort to catch the eye of audience among other performers.
Seeing such change in appearance of the young man in his twenties, Tim’s mother became worried and wanted to take him to a psychiatrist at Bellvue Hospital, which however did not happen as his father intervened.
In 1959 he used the name ‘Larry Love, the Singing Canary’ to perform at Hubert's Museum and Live Flea Circus in Times Square, New York City. It was there that he signed with a manager that led him to attend auditions across the Greenwich Village. While there he sang the song ‘Tiptoe Through The Tulips’ in his falsetto voice, played ukulele and performed amateur gigs for free. With time ‘Tiptoe Through The Tulips’ would become his signature song that he continued to perform all through his career.
He started performing in a gay and lesbian club in Greenwich Village called Page 3 in 1963 for 6 hours a night, 6 nights a week earning $96 monthly, marking his first paying gig. For next couple of years he performed as Sir Timothy Timms and Dary Dover and it was his manager George King who later zeroed in his stage name as Tiny Tim.
Following appearances in films ‘Normal Love’ (1963) and ‘You Are What You Eat’ (1968), Tim landed up in the American sketch comedy TV program ‘Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In’. He remained one of the regular guest performers of the show during 1968–70 and 1971–72 and was part of the 100th episode celebration of the show.
His debut album ‘God Bless Tiny Tim’ released through Reprise label in April 1968. It consisted of 15 tracks including an orchestrated version of ‘Tiptoe Through the Tulips’ that emerged as a hit charting at #17 that year garnering Tim popularity. His rendition of the song later became an important part of the 2010 blockbuster hit supernatural horror film ‘Insidious’.
Over the years he spawned several other albums like ‘Tiny Tim's 2nd Album’ (1968), ‘Tiny Tim: The Eternal Troubadour’ (1986), ‘Rock’ (1993), ‘I Love Me’ (1993), and ‘Girl’ (1996). One of his albums, a collection of children’s song titled ‘For All My Little Friends’ released via Reprise Records in 1969 garnered a Grammy Award nomination.
He also founded his own record label ‘Vic Tim Records’ after his contract with Reprise Records ended. Although popularity of this power packed entertainer dwindled after a certain stage, he continued to perform almost till his last breath.
Continue Reading Below
Some posthumous albums of Tim include ‘Tiny Tim Live at the Royal Albert Hall’ (2000) and I've Never Seen a Straight Banana: Rare Moments Vol. 1(2009). Biographies on the performer includes ‘Tiny Tim’ (1976) by Harry Stein and ‘Eternal Troubadour: The Improbable Life of Tiny Tim’ (2016) by Justin Martell.
He married thrice. His first marriage with Victoria Mae Budinger happened on the popular American talk show ‘The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson’ on December 17, 1969. It was watched by 40 million people. The marriage however culminated into divorce in 1977. His only daughter Tulip Victoria Khaury Stewart was born out of this marriage in 1971.
He was then married to Jan Alweiss from 1984 to 1995; and lastly with Susan Marie Gardner from 1995 till his death.
He suffered a heart attack on September 28, 1996 while performing at a ukulele festival at the Montague Grange Hall in Montague, Massachusetts and was subsequently hospitalised. Although he was advised against performances, Tim continued.
On November 30, 1996, while performing his signature song ‘Tip-Toe Through the Tulips’ at a gala benefit hosted by the Women's Club of Minneapolis Tim suffered from another heart attack which proved fatal. He was rushed to Hennepin County Medical Center but was declared dead after around an hour.
Remains of this ever energetic performer now lies entombed in a Lakewood Cemetery mausoleum located in Minneapolis.
He played the ukulele with left hand and the guitar with right hand.
Australian writer Ursula Dubosarsky mentioned that the character of Isador's Daddy with long red hair playing the ukulele from her children’s trilogy ‘The Strange Adventures of Isador Brown’ was inspired by him.
He is also mentioned in the lyrics "I love your blue-eyed voice, like Tiny Tim shines thru" from the 1992 song ‘How Do You Do!’ by Roxette.