TINY TIM Tiptoes thru our small town BIG TOP, 1985
If you think that Tiny Tim (the musician), with his ukulele and his falsetto singing voice, is a bit bizarre then I’m here to tell you; “you ain’t heard nothin’ yet”.
Tiny Tim enjoyed international stardom in the 60’s after his first big break on the comedy and variety TV show “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in”. Other performances followed on the “Johnny Carson”, “Ed Sullivan” and “Jackie Gleason” shows. He was a novelty, to say the least, and is best remembered today for his signature song, “Tiptoe Thru The Tulips”.
By the 1980’s however, his popularity, his fame and his fortune had dwindled considerably. Therefore I wasn’t too surprised when I read, in 1985, that he was to be the main attraction at a small time circus in my home town to raise money for a local charity.
My little town of Vass, NC, had barely 700 residents back then but people came from near & far for the one-night performance and when Tiny Tim made his appearance the “Big Top” nearly burst at the seams. I was there and enjoying myself but when he finished his last song I rushed home. It was late and I had to be up by 6 AM in the morning to get to my job at the emergency room of our local hospital.
Imagine my surprise the next morning when I saw a familiar looking figure in a dark overcoat and long, stringy black hair. It was Tiny Tim. He had a small paper bag with him and was pleading to have the ER Dr. see him “in private”.
He was refusing to be registered so we called the Supervisor. She finally determined that he was carrying a urine sample that he swore he had obtained from a girl in Vass (!) She, according to Tiny Tim, was accusing him of getting her pregnant and he wanted the Dr. to prove her wrong. Remember, this was back in 1985, long before you could get a pregnancy test kit from a drugstore.
This whole scene was getting more and more bizarre. Both the Dr. and the nursing supervisor tried to tell him that it was way too early to determine anything but Tiny Tim just became more agitated. He started yelling about “my rights as a citizen” and “people taking advantage of me because I’m a star”, and it was at this point that the news photographer arrived.
In retrospect we came to believe that it was all a set-up. Tiny Tim got a big spread in the local paper, as well as those in Raleigh and Fayetteville. The un-named girl from Vass “conveniently” disappeared and Tiny Tim, with a big “gotcha” smile on his face, tiptoed his way out of our lives.