Cal Worthington, Car Dealer and Ad Pitchman, Dead at 92

Car dealer was known for his theatrical commercials featuring animals

Cal Worthington, whose attention-grabbing TV ads made him a household name among many Southern California natives and helped establish an auto-dealership empire that ran from Long Beach, Calif., to Alaska, died on Sunday, the Los Angeles Times reports. He was 92.

Attorney Brady McLeod, whose firm represented Worthington, said that the car tycoon died while watching football at his home near Orland, Calif.

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Worthington, an Oklahoma native, bought a car dealership in Huntington Park, Calif., but he became an enduring presence in people’s living rooms starting in the 1970s with his theatrical ads for his car dealership. In his ever-present cowboy hat and with his down-home style, Worthington would often appear with his “dog Spot,” which would invariably turn out to be an animal other than a dog — a spoof on rival dealers who would appear in ads with dogs. Over the years, Spot would be portrayed by a Noah’s ark worth of creatures, including a frog, a bear, an elephant and even a gorilla chained to a car bumper.

Worthington was also known for his jingle “Go See Cal,” a 26-stanza, self-penned epic imploring customers to come to his dealership.