Tiny went out big
By Don Mueller
An Eccentric. A musical encyclopedic genius. A 60's icon. That right there could describe a few of our members, but, the person that I'm referring to would make our fellow Mensans seem like incredibly normal people! Tiny Tim left us at the very end of November. He was doing the song that he knew best, "Tiptoe Through the Tulips", when a final heart attack took him away.
We all know his story. A shy singer who spent years singing in Greenwich village before his first appearance on "Laugh-In". His persona got a lot of attention on "The Tonight Show", and Johnny Carson invited Tiny to have his marriage on the show. Johnny was smart enough to know that EVERYBODY HAD to watch a guy like Tiny Tim actually get married. Some things just had to have been seen to be believed. Sure enough, more people than ever before watched on that famous night in 1969 when the guy with the big hook nose wed a young teenager, Miss Vicki.
A few years ago, Tiny was at a local Denver show called "Baby Boomerama". One of the organizers of the event knew that I had an extensive video collection, and asked me if I had a tape of Tiny getting married, so that the tape could be shown at the Boomerama. Yep, I found 90 seconds of the wedding from Johnny's 20th Anniversary show, and I made a copy for him. I also had a bonus. I had the LAST appearance that Tiny had made with Johnny approximately 15 years ago. One song that was popular at the time had the words, "Do You Want My Body", (maybe that's the title of the song, I'm not sure) and Tiny ended his appearance one night by doing an extremely energetic rendition of the song! I mean, we're talkin' ripping off clothes here..... Tiny ripped off his colorful tie. As the lyrics became more intense, Tiny takes off his coat. Then he rips off his shirt. Now we see a pot-bellied Tim wearing an undersized T-shirt. Then Tiny gets onto the floor of the stage and starts rolling around, with exposed areas of his stomach flapping around in ways that I've never seen a human body display itself. A camera got a shot of a worried Carson with his jaw hanging open, mouthing the words, "I don't believe it....." That tape got some interesting reaction when it was shown at the Boomerama!
When I saw Tiny perform, one thing that impressed me was his awesome knowledge of all of the songs of the 20's and 30's. Someone would mention a song, Tiny would tell who wrote it, who sang it, and he would do an impression of that singer. He would have made a great college professor on musical history. I met Tiny and had a chance to talk to him. He was a nice guy. He smelled good. He gave me a "Bob Dole" handshake---one with the left hand. (I guess he was saving his right hand for his ukulele) He autographed a nice photo of himself for me. ("Mr. Don, Good Luck, Tiny TIm, June 7, 1992") And, I had my picture taken with him. You might say that the picture lends itself to some sort of a caption! I've narrowed my choices to Five:
5. The missing link of the new "unisex" look has now been found.
4. Don made some friends on his first visit to Mars.
3. The newest fall fashions have arrived.
2. So what does happen if you cross Peter Pan with Captain Hook?
1. Which twin has the Toni?
One more Tiny Tim story. I work for Bob Larson, who is an evangelist with a nationwide radio and TV show. It turns out that Tiny Tim was a fan of my boss. Yep, when Bob was preparing to walk out on stage to do a rally in Des Moines a couple of years ago, he couldn't quite understand why there seemed to be a disturbance in the audience. Bob had his answer when he strolled onto the stage. Sitting right in the front row was Tiny Tim himself in his usual Technicolor splendor! And Bob had to calm the audience down and redirect the attention to the subject at hand. After the rally, Bob met with Tiny in a restaurant, and got to know one of his regular listeners to his radio show. After Tiny's death, Bob and I were reminiscing about our "buddy", and how we just naturally like to hang around the same types of people!
This last holiday season, one phrase of a famous Christmas story sort of stuck out in my mind. I think "God Bless Tiny Tim" was the one!
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