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February 8: Tiny Tim Performs in Antler

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On this date in 1983, the Bottineau Current reported on a recent visit by Tiny Tim, the quirky singer and ukulele player. He was quite famous at the time, having made a name for himself with his signature song, “Tiptoe Through the Tulips.”

He performed two concerts at the Antler School to raise money for the school district. Around 250 people attended. He took the stage in a tuxedo that had comic book characters on it, along with a red and white tie, and blue and white sneakers. He strummed his ukulele and sang with falsetto voice such songs as, “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” “Hail, Hail, the Gang’s All Here,” “She’s a Grand Old Flag,” “Five-Foot-Two, Eyes of Blue,” and concluded the show with “God Bless America,” which brought the audience to their feet as they sang along.

According to the newspaper, the audience cheered for more. Tiny Tim complied, performing Elvis Presley songs and imitating the King with “gyrations and clothes slinging.”

After the Elvis interpretations, the crowd yelled for Tiny Tim to sing “Tiptoe Through the Tulips.” The song brought the audience to their feet with a standing ovation, ending the concert.

In reality, it wasn’t all tulips that evening because the performer had arrived in Antler without a winter jacket! And he was fighting a cold, causing his voice to crack. However, it didn’t stop him from entertaining the fans, who danced and clapped along.

Although Tiny Tim gave a great performance, the concerts didn’t end well for the school, which lost money in the venture. No small thing, since the district already faced cuts in state foundation payments.

Then there was a fan from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, who wasn’t impressed with the superintendent of the schools who gave Tiny Tim a Key to the City. The fan was quoted in the newspaper saying the superintendent should have given Tiny Tim a jacket instead of a lousy key!

Tiny Tim expressed sadness that he hadn’t raised the hoped-for money, but one resident reassured him, saying “You’ve have done more for this city than you can possibly imagine.”

Tiny Tim must have left an impression, because years later, the people still talk about the concert, his kindness, and what he tried to do for their schools.

Dakota Datebook by Scott Wagar


  • Bottineau Current, page 1, Feb 8, 1983

Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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