Arnold's wife of 66 years, Sally Gayhart Arnold, died on March 11 at the age of 87, The New York Times said.
Arnold began playing the guitar when he was 7 and soon saw music as a way out of the poverty he saw as a child in his native Tennessee. He started performing in beer halls and cafes and on the radio when he was a teenager.
Although Arnold is primarily seen as a country music star, 37 of his hits crossed over to the pop charts, the Times said.
From 1945 to 1954, he had 57 consecutive singles in the country music Top Ten. Two of his biggest hits -- "I'll Hold You in My Heart (Till I Can Hold You in My Arms)" and "I Wanna Play House with You" -- were later recorded by Elvis Presley.
Arnold was the host of several TV variety shows and starred in the Hollywood movies "Feudin' Rhythm" and "Hoedown."
He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1966.