California Car Dealer and Cult Hero Cal Worthington Dies


  • Cal Worthington Picture

    Cal Worthington Picture

    Cal Worthington, a California car salesman who changed dealership marketing with his zany commercials, died on Sunday. | September 11, 2013

Just the Facts:
  • Cal Worthington, the California car salesman whose zany TV ads helped him to become a folk hero, died on Sunday at age 92.
  • Worthington is credited with taking dealership marketing to a new level.
  • His famous commercials featured his "dog, Spot," never a canine but a revolving menagerie that included an elephant, a hippo and a tiger.

ORLAND, California — Cal Worthington, the California car salesman whose zany TV ads helped him to become a folk hero, died on Sunday at age 92, according to media reports.

Worthington, who at one time ran 29 dealerships from San Diego to Anchorage, is credited with taking dealership marketing to a new level.

His famous "Go See Cal" commercials featured memorable jingles and his "dog, Spot," never a canine but a revolving menagerie that included an elephant, a hippo and a tiger.

"I will stand upon my head until my ears are turning red to make a deal," Worthington would often say in the loony commercials.

Worthington, a former World War II pilot, would hang from airplanes or stand on his head in his commercials.

The Los Angeles Times praised the car dealer for his "cult celebrity" and "colorful showmanship." The New York Times called Worthington a "pop culture legend" when it came to moving the metal.

"It was the way he sold (cars) that made him a byword for creative hard-sell salesmanship in the great American tradition," it said.

Worthington told Automotive News in 2009 that he "blundered onto the idea" and "did it as a joke." But people "went crazy about it."

Edmunds says: Worthington changed the way cars are sold and brought a smile to many faces at the same time.

Comments

  • joe_scuba joe_scuba Posts:

    Best car commercials ever. Loved to watch them

  • karbuff karbuff Posts:

    Boy that does bring back memories. Growing up in LA in the 70's and 80's that is probably the only commercial that ever stuck with me. Never see that kind of Barnum and Bailey showmanship these days. Priceless. RIP Cal.

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