The peculiar phenomenon that was Tiny Tim


An eccentric in an eccentric time, Tiny Tim came to international fame in 1968 on TV’s “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.” With his long curly hair and make-up-enhanced powder-white face, he strummed a ukulele and sang “Tip-toe Thru’ the Tulips With Me” in a falsetto voice. An “overnight” sensation was born -- after years of struggle in the business.

The following year, Tiny Tim (born Herbert Khaury) married the teenage Miss Vicki on “The Tonight Show” in front of a record-breaking TV audience of 40 million. But stardom, and wedded bliss, were fleeting. He ended up marrying three times and even made a disastrous attempt to revive his career by performing disco tunes in the 1970s. A frequent guest on “The Howard Stern Show,” Tiny Tim would candidly -- perhaps too candidly -- discuss his obsessions, compulsions and fetishes.

Stephen M. Plym, the performer’s good friend and last manager, recaps the odd journey in the new book, “Tiny Tim and Mr. Plym: Life as We Knew It” (Edee Rose Publishing), penned by Plym and Vivien Kooper.


Among the Tiny trivia:

* “Tiny Tim always wore a tie. Morning, noon and night. Mister Plym never saw him without a tie. Ever. He even wore one to bed.” (Plym, perhaps fittingly for a confidant of such a man, refers to himself formally, and in the third person, throughout the book.)

* “Tiny Tim liked to say, ‘Ah, romance ... a wonderful thing that is spoiled by bad breath and body odors.’ ”

* “Tiny Tim ate lots of walnuts in the winter. ‘Squirrels eat them to keep warm, and I’m going to do the same,’ he reasoned. From November to February, his floors were covered in walnut shells.”

* “Tiny Tim proudly wore his long hair messed up, and during the twenty-five years Mr. Plym knew him, he never once picked up a comb.”

He died of a heart attack in 1996 while performing his signature tune at a benefit in Minneapolis. “The last thing he heard was applause,” his third wife, Susan, told Associated Press. “And the last thing he saw was me.”

-- Susan King