Now Showing at the Detroit Film Theatre: “Tiny Tim: King for a Day”

The documentary “Tiny Tim: King for a Day” pulls back the curtain on one of the oddest cultural phenoms of the late 1960s, giving a curio performer his due and exposing his vices along the way.

CultureShift on 101.9 WDET-FM gives you a front-row seat to the latest films playing at the Detroit Film Theatre (DFT).

Jake Neher/WDET
Jake Neher/WDET

Since 1974, DFT director Elliot Wilhelm has curated the films shown in this historic theater inside the Detroit Institute of Arts. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the DFT has continued to bring contemporary and classic world cinema from around the globe to patrons virtually via their website.

Now Showing: “Tiny Tim: King for a Day” (showing now through June 25th)

If the young, New York-born Herbert Khaury was the ultimate outcast, then his meteoric, TV-fueled rise to stardom as recording artist Tiny Tim is the ultimate fairytale. So, alas, was his downfall. Considered either an unbearable freak or an utterly original entertainment phenomenon, Tiny Tim, whose megahit “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” debuted in 1968 on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, left no one unaffected.

Listen: Dive deeper into the music and story of Tiny Tim.

Over 45 million Americans watched his wedding to the 17-year-old “Miss Vicki” on The Tonight Show, and over time his flamboyant personality has been celebrated by the likes of Bob Dylan. There were plans and hopes that Tiny Tim would be a lasting star, not just a novelty, but one man ruined these plans: Tiny Tim. Though often characterized as curio, Khaury was by all measures an exceptional interpreter of early American popular song, and his story is one of near-Shakespearean tragedy framed around a lovably bizarre public persona.

Thanks to extensive interviews with family and friends, plus exclusive access to Tiny Tim’s diaries, which have never before been made public, this new documentary, narrated by “Weird Al” Yankovic, reveals the untold, surprisingly powerful story of one of the most fascinating yet misunderstood figures in the history of popular music. (87 minutes) 

Detroit Film Theatre director Elliot Wilhelm contributed to this web story.

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