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Tiny Tim
Photo: Bob Aylott/Keystone/Getty Images

Tiny Tim

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Tiny Tim was a singer and musician who had a hit with "Tip Toe Through the Tulips With Me" and guest-starred on shows like 'Laugh-In' and 'The Tonight Show.'

Who Was Tiny Tim?

Tiny Tim performed as a singer and guitar/ukulele player in 1960s Greenwich Village before making guest appearances on Laugh-In and The Ed Sullivan Show. Known for his distinctive falsetto, he had a hit with his remake of "Tip-Toe Through the Tulips With Me." His wedding to his fiancée Miss Vicki on The Tonight Show also drew the most viewers in the show’s history. He died on November 30, 1996.

Early Life

Tiny Tim was born Herbert Buckingham Khaury on April 12, 1932, in New York, New York. His father, Butros Hanna Khaury, was from Lebanon and his mother, Tillie Staff, was a Jewish woman from Poland. Tim was raised in the Washington Heights section of New York City, where he developed a love for American songs and music, mostly from the late 1800s through the early 1900s. An unhappy student, Tim dropped out of high school and learned how to play the guitar and the ukulele.

Career Highlights

Eventually adopting the name Tiny Tim, from the Charles Dickens character, he began performing in clubs in the busy Greenwich Village music scene. He also played at talent shows and parties, often using different names. His parents tried to dissuade him from pursuing a career in music, but Tiny Tim was committed. An appearance in the movie You Are What You Eat (1968) led to Tim getting booked on Rowan and Martins Laugh In, a hugely popular television variety show.

His high-pitched, falsetto voice, ukulele playing and unusual appearance (Tim was over 6 feet tall and wore his dark, curly hair to his shoulders) surprised Dan Rowan; but Tiny Tim was a novelty hit. He appeared several more times on Laugh In and became a regular on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show. Tiny Tim continued to record, tour and enjoy his celebrity status.

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Personal Life

Tiny Tim first married, on The Tonight Show, in 1969, but he and his wife, Victoria Mae Budinger, mostly lived apart. They divorced after eight years and one child, daughter Tulip Victoria. Tiny Tim would go on to marry two more times, each time living separately from his wives.


Tiny Tim suffered a heart attack while appearing at a ukulele festival in Massachusetts in 1996. Released from the hospital after three weeks, he was warned to give up his touring and performing. Tiny Tim chose to pursue his art, however, and suffered a fatal heart attack in Minneapolis on November 30, 1996. He left the stage after performing "Tip Toe Through the Tulips," his signature song, and died an hour later.

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