Have You Heard of Cal Worthington (and his Dog Spot)?

Thanks to the internet, you probably have seen Cal Worthington…and Spot!

From TV Host to Car Dealer

Oklahoma native Calvin Coolidge “Cal” Worthington moved to Huntington Beach, California in 1949, after finding modest success as a car salesman in Corpus Christi, Texas. Once there, he established a Hudson Motor Car dealership. After that, he purchased time for a three-hour live country music television show every weekend on Los Angeles’s KTLA, later named Cal’s Corral.  When sponsorship of entire programs became unfeasible, Cal switched to owning a Ford dealership, becoming known for his offbeat (and memorable) advertisements.

Cal Worthington’s Dog Spot

One of Cal Worthington’s rivals in early 1960s Southern California car dealerships was Chick Lambert of Brand Motors Ford City. Lambert always pitched for his the Ford Dealerships he worked for (he was employed by multiple area dealers over many years) with his dog, Storm. Worthington upped the ante of advertising wars by introducing his dog Spot.

Except…Spot was not a dog.

That’s right, Cal Worthington’s pet sidekick was…a gorilla that roared!

(Not the gorilla).

In fact, I’ll give you the truth…Spot was never a dog. However, Spot was many different animals – an elephant, a tiger, a skunk, bear, killer whale from Sea World, a goose, a bull, snakes (EWWW!), a roller-skating chimpanzee, a carabao (Water Buffalo), and a hippopotamus. But never a dog.I’d buy a car from the guy who runs with a leashed tiger and lives!

Now he’s just trying too hard!

Cal Worthington (and his Dog Spot!) commercials were a hit and a staple of Southern California into the 1990s. And that jingle? The stuff of “stuck in your head” earworms!

The jingle (to some extent) still exists in current advertising for Worthington Ford, with his grandson, Nick, as the new “Cal Worthington.”

Upload via Nick Worthington

He tries, but he’s no Cal Worthington…and his dog Spot.

Come on, he didn’t even have a dog Spot in the ad!

Cal Worthington’s Legacy

Worthington’s “His Dog Spot” commercials were legendary on the West Coast, saturating the Los Angeles-area airwaves. In the 1970s, his ads aired on four of the seven Los Angeles stations. Famously enough, they aired mostly in the overnight hours during late movies. The Television Bureau of Advertising said that Worthington is the best known car dealer pitchman in television history.

We didn’t have a Cal Worthington-esque car dealer in the Northeast/New York City market (that I’m aware of), though we did have appliance store Crazy Eddie and his memorable ads, if you like comparisons!

He was INSANE!

Not bad for a man who never owned a car, hated selling them, and only wanted to be a pilot.

Worthington passed away in 2013 (he lived to the ripe old age of 92!), but his legacy of drawing potential buyers in with his catchy advertising lives on in the archives of YouTube.

Wouldn’t you love to see those ads?

Go See Cal, Go See Cal, Go See Cal!

Uploads via lugnutsoldcrap

Upload via Chuck D’s All-New Classic TV Clubhouse

And how about this one from 2007-2008? Yes, that is Cal Worthington!

Upload via CalWorthingtonFord

Upload via Richard Carson, who noted that these ads all aired within a half hour of each other on KTTV during their late movie in 1988.

There’s also a few in this Oddity Archive episode on local advertising (Beginning at 22:58)

Uploaded via OddityArchive

He put a smile on your face, didn’t he?

Retro Comic Book Ads

Old comic books often act as a time capsule.  They’re full of advertisements of products from long ago.  Some are still with us, while others are not.  I often like to crack open the pages of a long forgotten comic book and just browse the advertisements found inside with which to take a trip back in time to another era.  Let’s open one of those time capsules here today.

The “time capsule” for this trip back in time is a copy of Iceman #1, from Marvel Comics in 1984.  It was the first issue of his first mini-series, and I imagine this mini-series was created to capitalize on the character’s popularity from the Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends cartoon.

The first ad we come across is a real eye opener.  It’s for the Mario Bothers home video game for the Atari 2600 system.  It’s hard to think of a Mario game being on any system besides one from Nintendo, but this is from before Nintendo was launched in the USA and Mario took over the video gaming world.  This version of the game for Atari was an arcade port to the home system.

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1996 Computers

Which of the 1996 Computers would you buy?

This ad was from Best Buy that features 1996 computers, was posted online a few months ago. It really brought back a lot of memories. In 1996, I was lucky enough to have a 486 computer, but all of my serious computer friends had been talking about Pentiums since 1993. As you can see, three years later, and the Pentium was still the hot chip in all 1996 Computers. This ad would have been something I would stare at while eating my breakfast cereal. This was fantasy material for me, since most of these machines with their nearly $2000 plus price tag were well out of my reach.

When computers were advertised, they would put a price that would not include the monitor. Yet, they would display the monitor with some small text tell you it was not included. This drove me nuts. This ad’s prices include the whole caboodle. Accept the Mac of course, you can see the disclaimer in the very tiny fine print.

So lets take a look at these machines.

You have the 133MHz HP Pentium is a mere $1899.


For $100 more you could pick up a Packard-Bell with a 133MHz HP Pentium.


If you had all the money in the world, you could really splurge and get yourself a Mac. It will cost you nearly $3000 with the monitor included, but that is the price you pay to own Apple products. Some things have not changed much.


1994 Best Buy Ad

This 1994 Best Buy Ad features 90s Dream Technology

I bookmark a lot of websites. So many that it can take me months or even years to re-stumble upon something I thought I needed to share. In 2015 this 1994 Best Buy Ad was posted on Imgur. I drooled over it for about an hour back then, but moved on. This week I rediscovered it and thought I would dive into this gem. So let’s travel back to the nineties and explore the best items from this October of 1994 Best Buy Ad. I am sure it is filled with all sorts of electronic treats and Halloween references.

1994 Best Buy Ad - Page 1

In 1994, I was still spending some of my time working at a video store. Disney Movies were a huge money-maker for us. Sales on these things were no joke and Best Buy is pushing hard on 4 Disney classics. The Return of Jafar might have the same clamshell box, but a classic it was not. That being said, it was very popular at our store. The first month we couldn’t keep it on the shelves.

That is a nice enough Packard Bell. I especially like that the monitor is included in this package. So many ads back then would mix and match monitor inclusion. It was often confusing and disappointing.

Odd, not leading with something related to Halloween.

1994 Best Buy Ad - Page 2

Music? Can’t say many of the CDs would have caught my attention. But if you incline your head to the right, you will see the object of my affection, the Sega Genesis.

How are they enticing people to buy systems at Best Buy in 1994? A free backpack of course! From that photo, I would say that the backpack almost looks too small. Unless you only want to pack 1 or 2 games. I guess if one of those games is Shaq-Fu, that is all you need. We really seemed to be into Shaquille O’Neil in the 90s.

Hmm, wonder why no attempts at a Halloween or horror game.

1994 Best Buy Ad - Page 3
Page 3 of the 1994 Best Buy Ad is the high-priced audio equipment. Everyone of these objects was out of my price range. Looking at them now, I am relieved I was cool with my sister’s hand me down equipment. That saved me a lot of money.

1994 Best Buy Ad - Page 4

Yes! 31 inches of TV for a mere 800 bucks. That TV with no-name looks really familiar. If I am not mistaken it was the style of TV we used in our video store. Something about the sound grill looks familiar. I am not sure if Sound Grill is a real word, but if not, I am coining it. We had those going 24/7 and never had a problem with them. So if that is the TV we had, $800 might have been a good deal.

Just want to add, it’s like Halloween is not even happening in this circular.

1994 Best Buy Ad - Page 5

More television, all of them showing Snow White, which was as a I mentioned, a big deal at the time. I would always peruse the TVs in the circulars, but what I was really interested at this point in time were those video camcorders. For reasons I can no longer recall, I really wanted an 8mm one.

1994 Best Buy Ad - Page 6

Stop everything! 540MB Hard Drive for only 300 dollars? I wonder what the failure rate was on the Conner Drives? Some other items of note: 14.4 modems for those weirdos who do the online and Best Buy’s lab coat wearing computer techs. Was anyone out there a Best Buy computer tech back then? Did they really provide lab coats?

I would like to go as a Best Buy Halloween Tech for Halloween this year. Did they wear any special badges on their lab coats?

1994 Best Buy Ad - Page 7

Look at all the computers! I would have done just about anything for any one of these machines in 1994. I would like to take this opportunity to focus on the use of free software to help sell the computer. For those who complain about your computer being filled with all sorts of nonsense when it was installed, I think this is where it got started. While some of this stuff might have been interesting to play with, for the most part it went on a shelf or in a box and was never opened. It was just noise. Bloatware you needed to install yourself.

1994 Best Buy Ad - Page 8

20 free pieces of Stoneware with the purchase of most of these large appliances! Wow. How can they afford to do that?

While I had very little interest in these large appliance in 1994 or now. For some weird reason I have always found the Chest Freezer to be oddly compelling. Just think of all the ice pops and ice cream sandwiches you could buy on sale and keep cold with one of them.

1994 Best Buy Ad - Page 9

They wait until the last page to post a pumpkin? Just a pumpkin?? This close to Halloween and this is all they could fit into the ad? That is disappointing. Oh well. Let’s take a look at the other stuff.

Almost $140 for a Discman! No wonder it took me nearly a decade to get one. That is not a terrible price for video tapes, but I could find them cheaper. As for the boomboxes, they lacked the style of their eighties ancestors. So I had no interest in them.

Conclusion


My family would keep circulars like these for years. It is a shame that at some point we cleaned house and threw them all away. Who knows what treasures we could be finding now. Still it is nice that someone is making an effort to share and preserve gems like this 1994 Best Buy Ad.