Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A subject we won't tiptoe around

Singer Tiny Tim died on this day in 1996, of congestive heart failure.

Born Herbert Khaury in New York in 1925, Tiny Tim became perversely popular for his falsetto singing and ukulele strumming, most famously demonstrated in his trademark song, "Tiptoe Through the Tulips."

Tim started out performing in Greenwich Village in the 1960s. His big break came when he appeared on "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In." The incredibly annoying act caught the public's fancy, and he appeared on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson as well as the Ed Sullivan Show.

In 1968 he released his first album, "God Bless Tiny Tim" which included "Tiptoe Through the Tulips." He released two more albums, including one for kids.

In 1969 he married his first wife, 17-year-old "Miss Vickie," on The Tonight Show. The marriage ended in divorce but, astounding to tell, they had a daughter, named Tulip.

Tiny Tim performed in Las Vegas and even joined a circus, but sadly, he never attained the dizzying heights of fame he had in the '60's. In 1996 he suffered a heart attack while performing at the Ukulele Hall of Fame.

Undaunted, he continued to tiptoe through America on tour. Another heart attack a few months later proved fatal.

Tiny Tim was buried with a ukulele in his hand and a tulip, in Lakewood Cemetery in Minnesota, where Hubert Humphrey, basketball icon George Mikan and Charles Lindbergh's father are also interred.