Tiny Tim – Do You Think I’m Sexy (1979)


Tiny Tim

Tiny Tim in 1969
Herbert Butros Khaury

April 12, 1932

Died November 30, 1996 (aged 64)

Resting place Lakewood Cemetery, Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
44°56′9.92″N 93°17′57.277″W
Other names
  • Herbert Buckingham Khaury
  • Dary Dover
  • Sir Timothy Timms
  • Larry Love the Singing Canary
  • Victoria Mae Budinger

    (m. 1969; div. 1977)

  • Jan Alweiss

    (m. 1984; div. 1995)

  • Susan Marie Gardner

    (m. 1995)

Children 1
Musical career
Genres Americana
Occupation(s) Musician
Instrument(s) Ukulele, mandolin, guitar, violin, vocals
Years active 1962–1996

Herbert Butros Khaury (April 12, 1932 – November 30, 1996), also known as Herbert Buckingham Khaury, and known professionally as Tiny Tim, was an American musician and musical archivist.  He is known for his 1968 hit song “Tiptoe Through the Tulips“, and was renowned for his wide vocal range in particular his far reaching falsetto.

Life and career

Early years

Tiny Tim was born Herbert Khaury in Manhattan, New York City, on April 12, 1932. His mother Tillie (née Staff), a Polish-Jewish garment worker, was the daughter of a rabbi. She had immigrated from Brest-Litovsk, present-day Belarus, as a teen in 1914. His father, Butros Khaury, was a textile worker from Beirut, present-day Lebanon, whose father was a Maronite Catholic priest. Tiny Tim was a devout Catholic.

Khaury displayed an interest in music at a very young age. At the age of five, his father gave him a vintage wind-up gramophone and a 78-RPM record of “Beautiful Ohio” by Henry Burr. He would sit for hours listening to the record. At the age of six, he began teaching himself guitar. By his pre-teen years, he developed a passion for records, specifically those from the 1900s through the 1930s. He began spending most of his free time at the New York Public Library, reading about the history of the phonograph industry and its first recording artists. He researched sheet music, often making photographic copies to take home to learn, a hobby he continued for his entire life. He grew up in the Washington Heights neighborhood in Manhattan, where he attended George Washington High School.

In 1945, while recovering from appendix removal, he read the Bible and listened to music on the radio. After his recovery, he rarely left his room except to go to school, where he was described as a mediocre student. He dropped out of high school after continuously repeating his sophomore year, taking a series of menial jobs. Around this time, he discovered he could sing in a high register while listening to Rudy Vallée and taught himself to play ukulele using an Arthur Godfrey method book. He would later describe this period of his life as a “religious experience”.

The Singing Canary

By the early 1950s, Tiny Tim had landed a job as a messenger at the New York office of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, where he became ever more fascinated with the entertainment industry. He then entered a local talent show and sang “You Are My Sunshine” in his newly discovered falsetto. He started performing at dance club amateur nights under different names, such as “Texarkana Tex”, “Judas K. Foxglove”, “Vernon Castle”, and “Emmett Swink.” To stand out as a performer, he wore wild clothing, grew his hair long and wore pasty white face makeup, partly inspired by Rudolph Valentino. His mother did not understand Herbert’s change in appearance and was intending to take her now-twentysomething son to see a psychiatrist at Bellevue Hospital until his father stepped in.

Tiny Tim performing at an event in Tennessee in the late 1980s

In 1959, he performed as “Larry Love, the Singing Canary” at Hubert’s Museum and Live Flea Circus in New York City’s Times Square. While there, he signed with a manager who sent him on unpaid auditions throughout Greenwich Village. At this stage he began performing the song that would later become his signature, “Tiptoe Through the Tulips“. In 1963, he landed his first paid gig at Page 3, a lesbian-run club on the corner of Charles Street and Seventh Avenue, playing six hours a night and six nights a week for $96 per month. For the next two years, he performed as “Dary Dover” and later “Sir Timothy Timms”. After a show in which he was booked to follow a “midget” act, his manager George King decided to bill him as “Tiny Tim” – a name which stuck.

Throughout the 1960s, Tiny Tim made numerous appearances in film and television. He had a cameo in Jack Smith‘s Normal Love from 1963. He also featured in 1968’s You Are What You Eat, singing the Ronettes‘ “Be My Baby” and Sonny and Cher‘s “I Got You Babe” as a duet with Eleanor Barooshian, in which Tiny took the Cher part. This led to a booking on the comedy variety show Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. Co-host Dan Rowan announced that Laugh-In “(believed) in showcasing new talent” before introducing Tiny Tim, who arrived on stage with a ukulele in a shopping bag and sang “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” and “On the Good Ship Lollipop” while an apparently genuinely dumbfounded Dick Martin watched. He sang “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” on both his second and third appearances on the show.

God Bless Tiny Tim and peak of popularity

John Wayne and Tiny Tim help celebrate the 100th episode of Laugh-In, 1971

His debut God Bless Tiny Tim was released by Reprise Records in 1968. “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” was released as a single and reached No. 17 on the Billboard chart. Tiny Tim’s 2nd Album followed in 1968, featuring a portrait of Tiny Tim and his parents on the cover. This was followed by 1969’s For All My Little Friends, a collection of children’s songs that received a 1970 Grammy Award nomination. Charting singles from this era included “Bring Back Those Rockabye Baby Days” at No. 95 and “Great Balls of Fire” at No. 85 in 1968 and 1969.

During this era of Tiny’s mass popularity, many pundits and journalists debated whether the “character” that Tiny Tim presented was just an orchestrated act or the real thing.

On December 17, 1969, Tiny Tim married Miss Vicki on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson with 40 million people watching. At the time, this was one of the most watched television events ever.

After his career highlights in the late 1960s, Tiny Tim’s television appearances dwindled, and his popularity began to wane. He continued to play concerts, making several lucrative appearances in Las Vegas. In August 1970, he performed “There’ll Always Be an England” to an estimated 600,000 people at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970. The UK press announced that he had stolen the show “without a single electric instrument”.

When his recording contract ended with Reprise, he founded his own record label and named it Vic Tim Records, as a pun on the combination of his wife’s name with that of his own. Tiny Tim, a biography by Harry Stein, was published in 1976 by Playboy Press.

Martin Sharp collaborations

Luna Park Sydney in the 1980s, the setting for Tiny Tim’s record-setting singing marathon

In January 1979, Australian artist Martin Sharp brought Tiny Tim to Luna Park in Sydney, Australia to set the world record for the longest non-stop professional singing marathon. This was the culmination of a longstanding collaboration between Tiny Tim and Sharp, who had been openly obsessed with him for years, bringing him to Australia several times, producing his recordings and painting his portrait over and over in different styles. The marathon performance was filmed by Sharp’s camera crew and ran for over two hours and seventeen minutes, successfully setting a world record.

When the 1979 Ghost Train fire occurred at Luna Park five months later, Sharp became convinced that the fire was in some way theologically linked to Tiny Tim’s performance and also set out to prove it was deliberately lit as an arson attempt. All of this became the basis for the film Street of Dreams, which serves as both a biography of Tiny Tim and an exploration of Luna Park and the fire. Sharp never finished editing Street of Dreams in his lifetime and the film remains incomplete, though a rough cut was released for film festival screenings in 1988 and that version continues to circulate online.

Sharp went on to produce many of Tiny Tim’s later records including RockChameleon and Keeping My Troubles to Myself, and also brought Tiny Tim to perform in Australia several more times throughout the 1980s and 1990s. His all-consuming fixation on Tiny Tim, Luna Park and the fire continued until his death in 2013.

In 2014, standalone footage of the complete marathon performance was released on streaming services as The Non-Stop Luna Park Marathon by Planet Blue Pictures. As of 2023, it can be viewed for free on Vimeo.

A large mural of Tiny Tim with tulip themes painted by Sharp hangs in the Macquarie University Student Council.

Personal life

Tiny Tim was married three times. He had one daughter from his first marriage to then-17-year-old Victoria Budinger – also known as “Miss Vicki” – at age 37. Tiny Tim and Victoria Budinger divorced eight years later. Budinger subsequently had several marriages. He married Jan Alweiss (“Miss Jan”) in 1984, and Susan Marie Gardner (“Miss Sue”) in 1995. Gardner was a 39-year-old Harvard graduate and a fan of Tim’s since she was 12.


Tiny Tim’s tomb at Lakewood Mausoleum

On September 28, 1996, Khaury recorded a video interview at the Montague Bookmill. He later suffered a heart attack at a ukulele festival at the nearby Montague Grange Hall in Montague, Massachusetts. He was hospitalized at the nearby Franklin County Medical Center in Greenfield for approximately three weeks before being discharged with strong admonitions not to perform again because of his health, weight, and dietary needs for his diabetic and heart conditions. He ignored the advice.

On November 30, 1996, Khaury was playing at a gala benefit hosted by the Women’s Club of Minneapolis. He had let his third wife (“Miss Sue”) know before the show that he was not feeling well, but did not want to disappoint his fans. Before the start of his performance, most of the audience had left. In the middle of performing his last number of the evening — a rendition of his hit, “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” — he suffered another heart attack on stage. His wife asked him if he was feeling all right, and he said he was not; she was helping him back to their table where he collapsed, and never regained consciousness. EMTs performed on-site CPR and transported him to Hennepin County Medical Center, where after repeated revival attempts, he was pronounced dead at 11:20 pm. His remains are entombed in a mausoleum in Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis.

Posthumous releases

In 2000, the Rhino Handmade label released the posthumous Tiny Tim Live at the Royal Albert Hall. This recording had been made in 1968 at the height of Tiny Tim’s fame, but Reprise Records never released it. The limited-number CD sold out and was reissued on Rhino’s regular label. In 2009, the Collector’s Choice label released I’ve Never Seen a Straight Banana: Rare Moments Vol. 1, produced and recorded by Richard Barone in 1976. The album was a collection of rare recordings of some of Tiny Tim’s favorite songs from 1878 through the 1930s, along with some of his own compositions.

In 2009, it was reported that Justin Martell was preparing a biography of Tiny Tim, released in 2016 under the title Eternal Troubadour: The Improbable Life of Tiny Tim. Martell is called one of America’s “foremost experts” on Tiny Tim; he contributed liner notes to I’ve Never Seen a Straight Banana and the 2011 Tiny Tim compilation LP Tiny Tim: Lost & Found 1963–1974 (Rare & Unreleased), released on Secret Seven Records.

In 2013, a biography of Tiny Tim was released in two editions. Tiny Tim: Tiptoe Through A Lifetime was released July 16, 2013, and is by Lowell Tarling (author) and Martin Sharp (illustrator). Ship To Shore PhonoCo followed up Lost & Found Vol 1 with a Vol 2 featuring Tiny Tim’s 1974 live recording of “(Nobody Else Can Love Me Like) My Old Tomato Can” on a limited edition wax cylinder.

In 2016, Ship To Shore PhonoCo released Tiny Tim’s America, a collection of demos recorded by Tiny Tim in 1974 and finished in 2015 with overdubs overseen by producer Richard Barone and Tiny Tim’s cousin Eddie Rabin. The album was subtitled “Rare Moments Vol. 2” and was presented as a spiritual sequel to 2009’s I’ve Never Seen A Straight Banana: Rare Moments Vol 1.

In 2020, Swedish journalist and documentary film-maker Johan von Sydow released the documentary film Tiny Tim: King for a Day.

Honors and awards

Star honoring Tiny Tim on the outside mural of the Minneapolis nightclub First Avenue

Tiny Tim was honored with a star on the outside mural of the Minneapolis nightclub First Avenue, recognizing performers that have played sold-out shows or have otherwise demonstrated a major contribution to the culture at the iconic venue. Journalist Steve Marsh remarked that receiving a star “might be the most prestigious public honor an artist can receive in Minneapolis.”


Studio albums

  • God Bless Tiny Tim (Reprise Records, 1968)
  • Tiny Tim’s 2nd Album (Reprise Records, 1968)
  • For All My Little Friends (Reprise Records, 1969), Nominated for a Grammy Award.
  • Wonderful World of Romance (Street of Dreams YPRX 1724, 1980) 
  • Chameleon (Street of Dreams YPRX 1848, 1980) 
  • The Eternal Troubadour (Playback PBL 123441, 1986)
  • Tiptoe Through The Tulips: Resurrection (Bear Family Records BCD 15409, 1988)
  • Leave Me Satisfied (NLT 1993, 1989), Unreleased
  • Tiny Tim Rock (Regular Records, 1993)
  • I Love Me (Yucca Tree Records, 1993)
  • Songs of an Impotent Troubadour (Durtro, 1994)
  • Tiny Tim’s Christmas Album 1994 (Rounder Records, 1994)
  • Prisoner of Love: A Tribute to Russ Columbo (Vinyl Retentive Productions, 1995)
  • Girl (with Brave Combo) (Rounder Records, 1996)

Compilation albums

  • With Love and Kisses from Tiny Tim: Concert in Fairyland (Bouquet SLP 711, 1962) 
  • God Bless Tiny Tim: The Complete Reprise Studio Masters…And More (Rhino Handmade, 2006, 3-CD set)
  • Wonderful World of Romance (Zero Communications, TTWW 12062, 2006, recorded in 1979)
  • Stardust (Zero Communications, TTST 12063, 2006)
  • I’ve Never Seen a Straight Banana – Rare Moments Vol. 1 (Collectors Choice Music WWCCM 20582) (2009)
  • Tiny Tim: Lost & Found (Rare & Unreleased 1963–1974) (Secret Seven Records, 2011, compilation)
  • Tiny Tim’s America (Ship to Shore Phonograph Company, 2016, previously unreleased) 

Live albums

  • World Non-Stop Singing Record Brighton 1988 (1988)
  • Live in Chicago with the New Duncan Imperials (1995, Pravda Records)
  • Tiny Tim Unplugged (Tomanna 51295, 1996) 
  • The Eternal Troubadour: Tiny Tim Live in London (Durtro, 1997, recorded in 1995)
  • Tiny Tim Live! At the Royal Albert Hall (Rhino Handmade, 2000, recorded in 1968)

Guest appearances


  • “April Showers” / “Little Girl” (Blue Cat 127, 1966)
  • “Be My Love” / “Oh How I Miss You Tonight” (Boquet 101, 1968)
  • “On The Good Ship Lollipop” / “Don’t Take Your Love from Me” (Boquet 102, 1968)
  • “Tip-Toe Thru’ the Tulips with Me” /”Fill Your Heart” (Reprise 0679, 1968) #17
  • “Bring Back Those Rockabye Baby Days” / “This Is All I Ask” (Reprise 0760, 1968) #95
  • “Hello, Hello” / “The Other Side” (Reprise 0769, 1968)
  • “Great Balls of Fire” / “As Time Goes By” (Reprise 0802, 1969) #85
  • “On The Good Ship Lollipop” / “America I Love You” (Reprise 0837, 1969)
  • “Neighborhood Children” / “Mickey The Monkey” (Reprise 0855, 1969)
  • “I’m A Lonesome Little Raindrop” / “What the World Needs Now Is Love” (Reprise 0867, 1969)
  • “Don’t Bite the Hand That’s Feeding You” / “What Kind of American Are You?” (Reprise 0939, 1970)
  • “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” / “Don’t Bite the Hand That’s Feeding You” (Reprise 0740, 1970)
  • “Why” / “The Spaceship Song” (Reprise 0985, 1971)
  • “‘Hendrix-Joplin-Morrison’ Why Did They Have to Die So Young” / “Letter Edged in Black” (Vic Tim 777, 1971)
  • “(Whispering Voices) The Ballad of Attica Prison” / “Prisoner’s Song” (Vic Tim 778, 1971)
  • “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” / “White Christmas” (Vic Tim 1001, 1971)
  • “Tip-Toe Thru’ the Tulips with Me” / “Great Balls of Fire” (Reprise 0740)
  • “Am I Just Another Pretty Face” / “Movies” (Scepter 12351, 1972)
  • “I Ain’t Got No Money” / “Alice Blue Gown” (Toilet 101, 1973)
  • “Tip Toe to the Gas Pumps” / “The Hickey (On Your Neck)” (Clouds Records, 1979)


  • Keeping My Troubles to Myself (1983)
Discography notes
  1. ^ Recorded at EMI Australia, only 200 pressed, no cover printed.
  2. ^ Only 1000 copies pressed.
  3. ^ “Unauthorized” recording.
  4. ^ Recorded live in Birmingham, Alabama.
  5. ^ Tiny Tim has six songs on this album.
  6. Jump up to:a b Reissue
  7. ^ With Miss Vicki
  8. ^ Refers to long gas lines during OPEC oil crisis.