Golden voiced yodeler of yore country legend SLIM WHITMAN heads for the last hayride at 90.
The pencil thin mustached yodeling singer who parlayed his 1950s country hits into even greater fame and commercial success through a media savvy late night TV commercial campaign for his vintage singles.
Ottis Dewey Whitman was born Jan. 20,1923, in Tampa Florida, Fla. By age 12 he was imitating Jimmie Rodgers, known as "The Father of Country Music," who helped bring falsetto vocal twirls and leaps into country music in its early years.
After a little thing called World War II Whitman was discharged from the Navy after serving in combat in the South Pacfiic arena. Slim soon landed a contract in 1948 with RCA Records on the recommendation of Colonel Tom Parker – later to helm Elvis Presley’s career.
His now classic 1954 45 single "Rose Marie” spent 11 weeks at No. 1 in the UK, a milestone that endured until 1991 by Bryan Adams "Everything I Do (I Do It For You)."
Although Whitman never scored a No. 1 hit in the U.S., his 1952 recording of “Indian Love Call” " reached No. 2 on Billboard's country singles chart, as did "Secret Love” in 1954, a song made famous by Doris Day in her hit film "Calamity Jane".
Despite his B-movie cowboy villain appearance Whitman aka "The Smilin' Star Duster" enjoyed an unsullied rep not only as a musician but a public figure.
"When other guys were out drinking, I would call my wife every night when I was on the road," he said in an interview with the Florida Times-Union.
In 1980, Suffolk Marketing offered a collection of Slim’s hits on TV in a barrage of non-stop late night commercials which millions remember wistfully.
Despite claims from the marketers that the collection of “Slim Whitman’s Greatest Hits” sold more than 2 million copies, it only charted No. 175 in Billboard at the time.
The ads remained a favorite for comedians and everyone from Johnny Carson to SCTV’s Joe Flaherty had fun with the in-your-face Slim-mercials.
In 1996 in Tim Burton’’s sci-fi spoof “Mars Attacks!” the invaders from the Fourth Planet were not felled by germs, anti-saucer guns nor atomic bombs but the senses-shattering, world- saving yodeling of the one and only Slim Whitman.