Sunday, June 21, 2009

My sister - and Tiny Tim

If you’re over 40, you’ll remember Tiny Tim, the eccentric performer who zoomed to fame in the late 1960’s.

I was surprised to learn the other day that he has more in common with my sister, and some friends and family members, than I had imagined previously.

For starters, he and my sister share the same birthday.

In addition, very few people realize that he’s spent the last 13 years totally within the borders of the state of Minnesota.

And that falsetto singing?

It was all just an act.

His natural singing voice was baritone, but he could also perform in other ranges. On one of the songs on his first album, God Bless Tiny Tim, he sings a trio (with himself) in baritone, tenor, and falsetto.

Herbert Khaury was born on April 12, 1932.

At the tender age of 5, he became interested in music, and avidly listened to, and studied, “the music of the past”.

He started performing while still in his teens, but his career didn’t take off until after he discovered his “high voice”. He adopted the stage name of Tiny Tim in 1962.

He was a regular street performer near Harvard University in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, and this exposure eventually led him into the film industry, and (subsequently) television.

You and I may feel that his performance of “tiptoe through the tulips” is a little, um, weird, but it enabled him to get on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, as well as Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In:

He and the former Victoria Mae Budinger (Miss Vicki) got married on the Tonight show on December 17, 1969, and the ceremony was watched by more than 40,000,000 people:

Talk about a LARGE WEDDING!!

Less than a year later, he performed at the Isle of Wright festival in front of a crowd of 600,000 people, and his rendition of “There’ll always be an England” brought down the house.

His popularity declined in the 1970’s and 1980’s, but picked up again in the early 1990’s.

On November 30, 1996, he suffered a heart attack (his second) while performing on stage at the Women’s Club of Minneapolis, and died at Hennepin County Medical center a short time later.

He is interred at the mausoleum at Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis, approximately 13 miles from Fort Snelling National Cemetery, where my parents, and my father in law, were laid to rest.

Although I’m not convinced that reincarnation is real, I’ve read enough books on the topic that I’m at least open to the possibility.

If the former Herbert Khaury miraculously came back to life, this is probably what he would say:

“God bless us, every one”.

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