Tim Tiptoes On
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Tim and one of his Co-performers on the Great
circus is in Endicott Friday
before intermission at the Great American
Circus, Tiny Tim plays
medley of songs including Tiptoe Through the
The big top replaced
but Tiny Tim's still
Herbert Buckingham Khaury will tell you:
"Everybody has a hit in the slump they call life."
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
Khaury's first was called "Tiptoe Through The
Khaury, well, he is better known by his stage
name: Tiny Tim.
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."
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.
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
Friday, Tim and the Circus will be in Bloomsburg
at the Fairgrounds. Performances both days will be
at 5:30 and 8 p.m.
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
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.
is right were Tim 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
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."
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.
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
Yarrow - of Peter, Paul and Mary - saw the act,
persuaded recording executive Mo Ostin to take a
look and Tim was discovered.
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.
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
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.
hard but I think I'll make it again.
then, Tim will be on the road, with the circus.
have a very nice Air Stream Trailer. I'm having a
very good time."
along with amenities of stardom, is Miss Vicki,
Tim's first wife. Now, he is coupled with Miss
Tim coos, "I love her immensely." He starts
singing/talking a song from 1946, "I Can't Begin
speaking voice has been a somewhat hoarse baritone
now rising to a ticklish, giddy soprano.
can't begin to tell you, How much you mean to
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 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".
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
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
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."
submitted by Jim Z
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