The Strange Story of Tiny Tim's TV Wedding

Miss Vicki and Tiny Tim at their wedding, 1969
Photo Credit
Bettmann/Getty Images

There are novelty acts, and then there are novelty acts, and while purists might reasonably argue that Tiny Tim was far more than a novelty act - a fact easily argued by the existence of the 479-page tome Eternal Troubadour: The Improbable Life of Tiny Tim - the fact remains that he was a 6’1” gentleman whose biggest hit was a ukulele rendition of “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” sung in a high-pitched voice.

That said, as novelty acts go, Tim was a friggin’ superstar, thanks to his many talk show appearances. If there’s one show which made him as big a deal as he was, it was The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, which served as the venue for Tim’s wedding to his 17-year-old sweetheart, Victoria Mae Budinger, a.k.a. Miss Vicki.

Yes, you read that right: Miss Vicki was 17 years of age...and since we know you’re wondering, Tim was 37. Their relationship was a legitimate one, however, and it’s discussed in considerable details in the aforementioned book, with many quotes from Vicki’s family about how much they came to like Tim.

When the couple’s engagement was announced by Tim on The Tonight Show, Carson asked, “Now, this is your first marriage, isn’t it?” Tim replied, “Yes, Mr. Carson, and last,” after which he added, “The fact that she is 17, I would like to say that a lot of prayer is involved at the moment and, of course, I’ve always loved youth, but only in the right way.”

After showing off Vicki’s engagement ring, Carson asked Tim about his past relationship history, at which point Tim admitted that he was saving himself for marriage, although he admitted, “I’m no saint: I have, to my sorrow, slipped in that, and thank God-to-Christ he’s protected me and I never had any relations with a woman.” The “slipping,” as it turned out, was merely a reference to having kissed Vicki a few times, but as Carson assured him, "A little kissing isn’t bad before marriage.”

A few minutes later, after Vicki left the stage, Carson asked Tim if he and Vicki would like to be married on TV, and Tim accepted without hesitation. This spontaneity would come back to haunt him, as Vicki had actually wanted a traditional wedding and had anticipated that their nuptials would take place at her parents’ house.

In the end, Vicki relented, of course, and the wedding took place on Dec. 17, 1969, with the couple wearing handmade, Victorian-era clothing designed by Jeffrey Martin. Aside from the regular Tonight Show folks, also in attendance were the episode’s other guests: Florence Henderson, Phyllis Diller, and Nick Lucas.

Reflecting on the ceremony some years later, Henderson admitted that she didn’t take the ceremony very seriously, nor did Johnny or the other guests. Both Tim and Vicki did, though...and, really, isn’t that all that matters?

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