Slim Whitman, country music singer, dies at age 90
Country music singer Slim Whitman, whose career spanned six decades, died of heart failure at age 90 on Wednesday, June 19.
The singer's son-in-law confirmed the news to The Associated Press. Whitman died at Orange Park Medical Center in Orange Park, Florida.
Younger audiences might know Whitman from his song "Indian Love Call," which was featured in the 1996 movie "Mars Attacks." The sound of Whitman's high-pitched yodel killed the aliens in the film by causing their heads to explode.
The singer also once encouraged a young Elvis Presley, back when Whitman was a headliner and Presley was beginning to make his professional debut, according to the wire service.
Whitman released over 65 albums throughout his career. In the 1980s Whitman became known for his TV commercials, which featured his romantic ballads. The commercials helped sell his records. "All My Best," an album of his that was marketed on TV, went on to sell 4 million copies.
"All of a sudden, here comes a guy in a black and white suit, with a mustache and a receding hairline, playing a guitar and singing 'Rose Marie,'" Whitman told the AP in 1991. "They hadn't seen that."
Whitman also told the wire service, "I almost didn't do them. I had seen those kinds of commercials and didn't like them. But it was one of the smartest things I ever did."
Whitman, whose real name was Ottis Dewey Whitman Jr., was born on January 23, 1923, in Tampa. Before his singing career took off, Whitman worked in a meatpacking plant, at a shipyard and as a postman.
He signed with RCA Records in 1949 and Col. Tom Parker, who went on to become Presley's longtime manager, helped him early on. It was RCA who came up with the "Slim" nickname for the slender 6-foot-1 singer.
Some of his hits include "Secret Love" "Indian Love Call," and a cover of the song "Rose Marie."
According to the AP, he was survived by his daughter, Sharon Beagle, and his son, Byron Whitman.