There was a short time when Herbert Khaury, a.k.a. the falsetto-voiced Tiny Tim, was one of the biggest and most unlikely pop stars in the world. In 1968 he had a top twenty hit with “Tiptoe Through the Tulips,” a cover of a song that originally appeared in the 1929 movie “Gold Diggers of Broadway.” He appeared on “Laugh In” and played at the Royal Albert Hall. The following year forty million people tuned in to see him marry Miss Vicki on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, earning the second highest rating to the man walking on the moon. There were Tiny Tim bobble heads, dolls and games, and he was even mentioned by Snoopy in a Peanuts cartoon.
“It sounds strange to say that Tiny Tim arrived at a time when the country needed a Tiny Tim,” says television producer George Schlatter, “but we did. The world was screwed up, not unlike it is today. We needed someone who was that sweet, vulnerable and kind. Tim walked in and became a national hero.”
Then, almost as quickly as it began, Tiny Mania waned. A new documentary, “Tiny Tim: King for a Day,” now streaming via the Yuk Yuk’s website, paints a picture of an outsider artists who endured ridicule in return for the warm embrace of applause.
Narrated by “Weird Al” Yankovic and featuring animation, archival clips, readings from Tim’s diaries, musical numbers and interviews with those who knew him best, the documentary goes beyond the falsetto to reveal a performer who was haunted by shame, sexual suppression, religious stress with women and memories of his brief time at the top.
“When you look at where Herbert Khaury begins and Tiny Tim ends,” says biographer Justin A Martell, “nothing was ever normal from top to bottom, from start to finish.”
At just seventy-five minutes “Tiny Tim: King for a Day” steps lively through Tiny’s story.
Interviews with his daughter and his third wife Susan Marie Gardner, combined with the diary readings, provide insight lacking from some of the other talking heads who tend toward platitudes.
The music may not be for everyone—1960s icon Wavy Gravy says, “People either got it, or they didn’t.”—but the beyond the bromides is an extraordinary story of resilience and of walking one’s own path.
Watch “Tiny Tim: King for a Day” via Eventive in partnership with YukYuk’s: