Tiny Tim was born with the name Herbert Khaury on April 12, 1932. He gained notoriety as an eccentric performer however his personality appeared to have developed early in life. Tim was the son of a Lebanese father and Jewish mother. Growing up in Manhattan, he was reported to have been a loner and dropped out of high school.
Tim’s saving grace appeared to be his interest and love for American popular music. He seemed to favor the era from the 1890s to the 1930s and began at a young age to practice music. Tim took easily to the guitar and ukulele, which many believe was self taught.
When Tim began in the music business he took on the name Larry Love. In the early 1950’s he was said to have debuted at a lesbian cabaret in Greenwich Village called the Page 3. According to historical accounts Tim became a regular at Page 3 and gained a small following.
Tim performed at small clubs, parties, and talent shows despite a severe lack of talent. His parents were said to have tried to discourage him from performing because they were afraid he would be disappointed. Tim continued on anyway apparently oblivious to the ridicule.
In the early 1960’s Tim found his cult following in the Greenwich Village music scene growing. At this point he settled on the name Tiny Tim after the character in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
Tim appeared in the film You Are What You Eat which led to a booking on the comedy series Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. Tim instantly became an audience favorite and then a regular on the show for approximately a year. He appeared on Laugh-In from time to time after that and also became a frequent guest on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. Tim performed in later years on Ed Sullivan and Jackie Gleason variety shows.
Tim’s wildly strange personality became as well-known as his music. He was rumored to be obsessed with bodily cleanliness and he was reported to have had distaste for sex. Throughout the years, Tim became known for having a non-gender specific personification as well.
Tim signed a record deal with Reprise in 1968. Tim’s debut album, God Bless Tiny Tim sold better than anyone suspected. He was known best for his rendition of “Tip-Toe Through the Tulips” which became a hit. The record sold over 200,000 copies, although the reason behind its success is still something that strikes awe in record producers. Tim recorded a follow-up album entitled, Tiny Tim’s Second Album and it was released at the end of 1968. Tim followed that up with an album of children’s songs called For All My Little Friends. Tim did get married somewhat putting to rest asexual rumors. He married his girlfriend, 17-year-old Victoria Budinger on the Johnny Carson show.
Tim performed around the country, including in Las Vegas. It was reported that he was taken advantage of a lot during his career and that in the end his business associates left him with very little money.
By the 1970’s people had become disenchanted with Tim and his popularity faded. He continued to perform where ever he could. Tim continued to record as well although for smaller labels.
In the 1990’s Tim came out again and made appearances on the Conan O’Brien and Howard Stern shows. In September of 1996, Tim suffered a heart attack while performing at a ukulele festival in Massachusetts. After his release Tim continued his concert schedule however on November 30, 1996 he suffered another heart attack in Minneapolis. He was performing “Tip-Toe Through the Tulips,” when it happened and died an hour later.