Tiny Tim Tiptoes On

 

 

 


by Mary Shaughnessy

Spectator

 

Tiny Tim has joined the circus. The chirpy-voiced singer, now in his 50's has started a 36-week stint under the Great American Circus big top, playing the center ring right after a bareback acrobatic horse act. To some the gig might seem a comedown from the $50,000 a week Tiny was earning in Vegas in the late '60s. Certainly the audiences will be smaller than the 35 million who watched his Tonight Show marriage in 1969 to a wide-eyed teen named Miss Vicki. But Tiny didn't seem to mind when he talked about the tour a few months ago in Brooklyn. "I'll have my very own private trailer," he told me in modest wonderment.


We were at the golden Dove lounge in Bay Ridge, the sort of place Tiny often plays these days. It was filled with aging singles on the prowl, its bar three0deep in spangled miniskirts and spike heels, leather jackets and plunging shirt fronts. I couldn't help wondering how these fading disco ducks would react to Tiny's wavery falsetto and beloved old vaudeville tunes.

 

Shortly after midnight Tiny fluttered onto the club's small stage, blowing kisses with both hands. He would be backed this evening by the Townsmen, a four-piece rock band with more equipment than talent and very little knowledge of Tiny's repertoire.

 

Tiny pulled his battered ukulele out of a canvas tote bag emblazoned with a big sun and the word "Florida," then launched into a Victrola-era rendition of Let Me call You Sweetheart. Although the Townsmen needed about four bars in this and every other song to figure out just what he was doing, the audience didn't care. Tiny, after all, was probably the closest they'd ever come to a celebrity a the Golden Dove.

 

Midway through the fist set Tiny's drummer gradually speeded up the tempo. Tiny hand-signaled for a slower pace to no avail, and so he plugged gamely on, rushing through 10 tunes in about 15 minutes. He is 6'1" and a portly 250 pounds now, but he looked genuinely fragile up there, an overgrown guppy surrounded by sharks.

 

Finally, after doing his old million-seller, Tiptoe Through the Tulips, he flung off his coat and flopped to the floor for his rousing finale, a Presleyesque Heartbreak Hotel. The crowd loved it.

 

Between sets Tiny sat at a small table and accommodated a half dozen autograph seekers, treating each with extraordinary courtesy. By his side was his "very good friend," a mid-30ish platinum blonde with silver glitter sprinkled on her face, neck and shoulders. Miss Vicki has long since gone, and Tin's second marriage last year had apparently been foundering. In the ladies' room the blonde and I chatted for a few minutes. "The soft-spoken Tiny that you see onstage, that's him all the way." she assured me. "He's very sincere." As she was leaving, I told her, "I hope your pal is about to make it again," Somehow my meaning failed to penetrate: maybe her glitter acted like the radar-jamming chaff dropped from planes, At any rate she thought I'd said something about her and Tiny making it. "Oh, I think we will," she replied. "He's ready for a long term relationship not." (but not with the blonde Tiny and Miss Jan got back together.

 

Tiny's second act was much the same, only with different tunes. Again he saved his best for the last five minutes, pumping out a spirited rendition of Jerry Lee Lewis' Great Balls of Fire.

 

Suddenly a middle-aged gent in a bad toupee, tight polyester pants and a matching shirt that rode up over his stomach hopped don the stage with a younger pumping-iron type. Both boys acted like chimps in heat, rolling on the floor, bouncing off the walls, making faces at the audience. Tiny looked pained - and conservative by comparison - but he went on with the show, his eyes focused somewhere above the crowd.

 

When I saw him last he was dancing with his blond friend, slow-stepping to the Golden Dove's disco band. A few weeks later he was off, riding his very own private trailer through the South in the company of jugglers, bears, elephants, trapeze fliers and high-wire walkers. He would get no sympathy from me, though-not that he would even want any. Because the fact was, I couldn't tell if he had really joined the circuses or merely left town.

 


 

Tiny Tim and one of his Co-performers on the Great American Circus

the circus is in Endicott Friday

 

 

Just before intermission at the Great American Circus, Tiny Tim plays

a medley of songs including Tiptoe Through the Tulips.

 


 

 


 

The big top replaced big hits,

but Tiny Tim's still singing

 


WILKES-BARRE Herbert Buckingham Khaury will tell you: "Everybody has a hit in the slump they call life."

 

Khaury knows. His solitary hit came overnight, 17 years ago. Since then it's been pretty much slump-city for the singer, always waiting for that follow-up hit.

 

Khaury's first was called "Tiptoe Through The Tulips."

And Khaury, well, he is better known by his stage name: Tiny Tim.

 

Yes, the Tiny Tim of "Laugh-In." The sweet-tempered fellow with the ukulele who blew lots of kisses. The Tiny Tim with nails-on-chalk-board falsetto. The one with the make-up, hawk-nose and long, stringy hair. The Tiny Tim of the celebrated marriage to then 17-year-old Miss Vicki on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show."

 

The fire doesn't seem to have been warming Tim's irons much since he slipped from vogue about 1970. He'll tell you of his popularity in Australia, a movie being made about him and the albums he has recorded. That second overnight, follow-up success, he says, lurks just 'round some corner down the road.

 

For now, however, the 55-year-old Tiny Tim is making a career with the Great America Circus, a traveling show that will make two stops in the area. On Thursday, Tim and the circus will be in West Hazleton at the Rear Bowl Arena on Susquehanna Blvd.

 

On Friday, Tim and the Circus will be in Bloomsburg at the Fairgrounds. Performances both days will be at 5:30 and 8 p.m.

 

Early last Saturday morning, Tim phoned from somewhere near Clifton, N.J. and explained that he joined the circus in late 1984 and has been a featured performer since.

 

All I really do is 10 minutes," said Tim of his medley of songs that range from the turn of the century pop tunes - of which he is an acknowledged authority - to present day hits such as "Like A Virgin." It's been a form of entertainment that has not been tapped before," Tim said of the circus. "It's gone over so well they're thinking of hiring Pat Boone."

 

Perhaps, but it is hard to imagine Pat Boone squeezed between the Suarez horse-riding act and Chico and Omar Gosh the clowns.

 

Which is right were Tim is.

 

He is affable, though, willing to discuss his fall from the pinnacle in '68 and '69 when Tim says he was making nearly $1 million after he recorded "Tip Toe."

 

Bad management, he claims, cleaned him out. "When 1970 rolled around I was back where I started and I've been doing the (coming back) for 15 years."

 

the circus is a long way from Johnny Carson and Laugh-In. But it is closer to the days Tim was doing his act, unheralded, at Greenwich Village coffeehouses and clubs such as The Fat Black Pussycat, Cafe Bizarre, Page 3 and The Scene, where he was discovered in 1967.

 

It was the same act Tim had done for the previous few years. Wearing lots of pancake makeup and a wisp of rouge on the cheeks, he'd yodel almost forgotten tin pan alley songs in their original style.

 

Peter Yarrow - of Peter, Paul and Mary - saw the act, persuaded recording executive Mo Ostin to take a look and Tim was discovered.

 

"He came down to see me and basically took me to Hollywood," Tim said of Ostin. Tim made a movie called "You Are What You Eat" and then recorded his one hit.

 

Before that hit Tim was making $41 a week. Perhaps that is why he can rationalize his flash-in-the-pan success and not be angry when people call him a has0been.

 

If they say I'm washed up or a has-been, it's better than or a never-has-been. They have to say I once was. I'm thankful for that," Tim said with pride.

 

"It's hard but I think I'll make it again.

 

Until then, Tim will be on the road, with the circus.

 

"I have a very nice Air Stream Trailer. I'm having a very good time."

 

Gone, along with amenities of stardom, is Miss Vicki, Tim's first wife. Now, he is coupled with Miss Jan.

 

Still, Tim coos, "I love her immensely." He starts singing/talking a song from 1946, "I Can't Begin To Tell."

 

His speaking voice has been a somewhat hoarse baritone now rising to a ticklish, giddy soprano.

 

I can't begin to tell you, How much you mean to me....

 

So we are left with the lingering questions... did Time join the circus? Has the circus joined him? Or has Tim's life always been something of a sideshow?

 

by Joe Butkiewicz

 


 

 



 

BY DAN HOGAN


Tiny Tim socked it to them Wednesday night at The Great American Circus across from the Winter Haven Fire Department. The Firemen's Association sponsored the event. More than 200 people saw the first show and about 150 cheered the featured performer at the second performance as he belted out a non-stop medley of songs like "Around The World", "When The Saints Go Marching In", "He's Got The Whole World In His Hands", and "Just A Gigolo". Then he sang his well known hit, "Tip Toe Through The Tulips With Me", and the excited crowd shouted "Go, Tiny, Go!" During intermission he signed autographs and later I was able to talk with him about his career. Tim has been with
the circus since March 23, performing two shows a day every day of the week except Easter Sunday. "I'm very grateful I have this job," he said. "Producer Alan C. Hill has innovated something new here. I'm the very first singer who's been up there and down to ever come back and work this long for the circus. Presley worked for the circus before he became a name. Joe Lewis and Tom Mix were down and worked for the circus-never a singer. It's a great experience because I've worked with kids. If I have another hit record, I'm back on top for another 20 years".

 

 

 

Tim is 54, an only child of a Jewish mother and a Catholic father, born and raised in New York City. His real name is Herbert Khaury. Along the way he's also been known as Larry Love and Darry Dover.


Tim's only formal musical education was the violin, which he took up in the early 1940's, but he studied it less than 12 months before giving it up. "I never had any singing training," Tim said. "However, the 1940's singer Dick Haymes' mother had a singing school right in the heart of New York. I remember going up there on 57th and Broadway and seeing a plush studio and elegant carpets. I was nervous like anything and I sang a song. I was told, "you have a good voice there; you need some training and some help". I sang straight then. They told me it would cost $700 for six months' training. I said I couldn't afford it, so they said in that case, send in $3.98, and get a book called "The Haymes Way-How To Sing," which I did. "It helped.

 

It told me how to relax and keep the lips puckered and how to think of things when I'm singing".

click on above image to learn more

 

 

The first time Tim received money for performing was in 1950 in a Jolson contest at the Loew's 86th Street Theatre. He came in second and received $10. Coincidentally, his first paid engagement in March 1962 also paid him $10 a night. It was the heyday of the coffeehouses, and he appeared in Greenwich Village at the Club Bizarre. His agent took $5 a night, but Tim says it was worth it just to be working. He fell in love with a waitress there who invited him up to her apartment for yogurt. His boss told him not to go, so he didn't. "And she was so beautiful too," Tim said. Tim caught on in Greenwich Village and Mo Ostin, head of Warner-Reprise Records, caught his act at a small club called "The Scene". Ostin offered him a recording contract. Rick Sklar, a disc jockey for WABC in New York, played Tim's record on the air and Tim's star was on the rise. He went from making $41.50 a week at "The Scene" in 1966 to $50,000 a week headlining at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas in 1968.

 

Along the way there were many television appearances on "Laugh-In" and Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show". It was on the "Tonight Show" that he married Miss Vicki in 1969. They divorced several years ago and Tim sees their 14-year old daughter, Tulip, when he can. He said, "I never gave Miss Vicki a divorce; the state of New Jersey gave it to her. I don't believe in divorce." "What breaks up my marriage is I have to have my women always with me. I love to be alone, but marriage is something the Lord wants and I don't believe in fooling around outside marriage. I'd rather marry 100 times and lose than be happy outside marriage. "I believe in Jesus Christ as the answer to life and I try to follow the way he wanted it in the scriptures. I don't believe in birth control; I don't believe in planned parenthood." Tim said, "I'm looking for the eternal princess. If I don't find her here, then, if I get to heaven, I'll find her there."


Tim has been wearing his hair long and curly since 1952. It appears to be dyed a reddish color. "Absolutely," he said. "I wash it evrey day. I use a shampoo called Emulsified Coconut Oil Shampoo which is out of the 40's. Only a special dealer can get it for me out of New York. I use Wella Balsam's rinse and color it with Clairol's shade 81, redwood brown about every ten days. My real hair color is somewhere between brown and black." Tim doesn't drive and never has. "I never took it up." A driver takes him from town to town to appear in the circus. He used to sleep in an Airstream trailer, but since being involved in an accident in New York, he now stays in motels.

He is 6-feet tall and used to weigh 190. He now weighs 240. "I love to eat. No.1 is pizza, no. 2 is Chinese food. No. 3 is popcorn. I buy big jars of Prego spaghetti sauce and drink it all right up out of the jar. And, I like Ronzoni tomato sauce because it has seedsin it.
I love to chew the seeds."

To relax, Tim enjoys keeping up with baseball. He's followed his favorite team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, religiously since the 40's, listening to every game whether they were ahead or behind, "I wouldn't go out until the game was over. I still believe being behind
13-0 with two men out in the ninth that they can win 14-13."

He was asked what his funniest experience has been with the circus. "We travel to 200 cities in nine months and the funniest thing that has happened to me is not remembering where I was. It's happened several times. The first time was the most embarrassing. Getting up and saying, "Ladies and Gentlemen, it's a pleasure to be here tonight in...uh... uh...where are we, Mr. Martin (the ringmaster) ?" Veteran circus performer Edwardo Steeples, whose family presents the bear and chimp act for Great American, was asked about Tim. "When they said Tiny Tim was going to be featured, the wife and I were contemplating how could Tiny Tim be featured in the circus. It didn't seem feasible at all,"Steeples said. "And we figured, OK, we're going to have a real snooty celebrity here...but when we met him, the guy couldn't be nicer. He's got time for you and he's more concerned about your problems than his own always."


Information submitted by Jim Z


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