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Slim Whitman, a country singer, had a distinctive high-pitched yodel

Slim Whitman sold millions of records through TV ads in the 1980s and 1990s and encouraged a young Elvis Presley. Slim Whitman died recently at age 90.

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Slim Whitman died at age 90.

AP

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Country singer Slim Whitman, the high-pitched yodeler who sold millions of records through ever-present TV ads in the 1980s and 1990s and whose song saved the world in the film comedy "Mars Attacks!," died Wednesday at a Florida hospital. He was 90.

Whitman died at Orange Park Medical Center, his son-in-law Roy Beagle said.

Whitman's tenor falsetto and ebony mustache and sideburns became global trademarks – and an inspiration for countless jokes – thanks to the TV commercials that pitched his records.

 

But he was a serious musical influence on early rock, and in the British Isles, he was known as a pioneer of country music for popularizing the style there. Whitman also encouraged a teen Elvis Presley when he was the headliner on the bill and the young singer was making his professional debut.

Whitman recorded more than 65 albums and sold millions of records, including 4 million of "All My Best" that was marketed on TV.

His career spanned six decades, beginning in the late 1940s, but he achieved cult figure status in the 1980s. His visage as an ordinary guy singing romantic ballads struck a responsive chord with the public.

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