Automotive Icon, Cal Worthington, Passes at 92
Cal Worthington, the quintessential car salesman best remembered for television commercials starring his “dog” Spot, has passed away at the age of 92. Worthington died Sunday after watching football with family at his ranch north of Sacramento.
While I can’t say that he did anything to encourage my career as an automotive journalist, I can say that Cal Worthington and his “dog” Spot were frequent guests in our livingroom, as his commercials ran frequently on local channels when I was growing up in Southern California in the 1970s and 1980s. His “dog” Spot was never a dog; every commercial featured a different animal, from lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!) to skunks, octopi, and pigs.
According to an obituary at the New York Times, “Mr. Worthington sold a lot of cars — more than a million of them, by his count — and at his peak in the 1960s ran an empire of 29 dealerships from San Diego to Anchorage.” I grew up in the Los Angeles South Bay area, and remember his commercials for his Long Beach dealership. I remember watching him stand on his head to sell cars, and I remember the jingle “go see Cal, go see Cal, go see Cal!” Don't know it? Never saw one of his commercials? Then be sure to watch the clip reel at the end of this article.
Worthington remained active in day-to-day operations at Cal Worthington Ford in Long Beach (the last remaining Worthington dealership in the continental United States), and employees say he had a “storybook life,” that he was a “great guy,” and that “he was exactly the kind of boss you would like to have.” He sold every kind of car from Hudsons to Hondas but never owned one of his own, preferring instead to borrow the cars on his own lots.
Rest in peace, Cal. Rest in peace.