ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
He was a pencil-thin man with a pencil-thin moustache and an unmistakable yodel.
(SOUNDBITE OF YODEL)
SIEGEL: Slim Whitman has died at the age of 90. His career as a country singer spanned six decades, 65 albums and several hit songs, including "Indian Love Call" and "Rose Marie." But he achieved cult-figure status in the 1980s, thanks to TV commercials, like this one.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV COMMERCIAL)
SLIM WHITMAN: (Singing) Making believe...
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Here is all the magic of Slim Whitman, the star who had the number one record in England for more weeks than even Elvis and The Beatles.
SIEGEL: Slim Whitman also saved the Earth from aliens. Well, his three-octave yodeling did, anyway. It caused Martian brains to explode in the 1996 movie "Mars Attacks!."
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "MARS ATTACKS!")
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (as Character) What's happening to them? What's killing them?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (as Character) I think it must be my music.
SIEGEL: And yet, jokes aside, Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney and George Harrison were all fans of the romantic balladeer. Slim Whitman died today of heart failure in his home state of Florida. Several years ago, in an interview with The Associated Press, he said he wanted to be remembered as a nice guy with a good voice and a clean suit.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "INDIAN LOVE CALL")
WHITMAN: (Singing) If you refuse me, I will be blue and waiting all alone. But if when you hear my love call ringing clear.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.