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- Posted on Nov 21st 2008 5:00PM by James Sullivan
Tall and heavy-set, with a protruding nose, a used car salesman's plaid jacket and a rat's nest of long dark hair parted to the side, Tiny Tim stood out even before he opened his mouth. When he did, the sound was like no other: an impossibly high, quavering falsetto that was all the more astounding for its apparent sincerity. "Discovered" by the producers of the comedy-show phenomenon 'Laugh-In,' Tim quickly became a fixture of network television in the late 1960s, making frequent appearances with Johnny Carson and Ed Sullivan.
'God Bless Tiny Tim,' Khaury's first album, came out in 1968 on Reprise Records, the Warner Bros. affiliate started by Frank Sinatra. It featured the singer's signature song, 'Tip-toe Thru the Tulips With Me,' as well as a cover of Sonny & Cher's 'I Got You Babe,' performed as a "duet" -- Tim trading lines with himself, alternating between falsetto and his natural baritone.
In late 1969, his televised marriage to his sweetheart, "Miss Vicki," drew 40 million viewers for 'The Tonight Show.' Their announcement that they were expecting a child drew a flurry of jokes -- they should name the baby "Vic-Tim," comedians said. No one was laughing when the mother suffered a miscarriage.
Tiny Tim was a smash hit at the massive Isle of Wight Festival off the coast of England in 1970, leading 600,000 longhairs in a megaphone rendition of 'There'll Always Be an England.' By the early 1970s, however, his novelty had worn off, and he would spend the last three decades of his life working any stage that would have him. His career enjoyed a modest renaissance in the 1990s, with new record releases on independent labels. One of Tiny Tim's last big gigs was an appearance in Howard Stern's 'Private Parts.'
In 1996, not long before that movie came out, the singer had a heart attack while performing at a ukulele festival in western Massachusetts. Warned by doctors not to perform anymore, Tiny Tim could not resist the stage. Two months later, appearing at the Women's Club of Minneapolis, he suffered another heart attack, while singing 'Tip-toe Thru the Tulips.' As his third wife helped him offstage, she asked if he was OK.
"No, I'm not!" he blurted. With that, the big man called Tiny tiptoed off to the great auditorium in the sky.