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?
She can be found at allisonveneziowrites.com.You can follow her blog on Facebook (facebook.com/allisonswrittenwords), Instagram @allisonswrittenwords, and on Twitter @AllisonGeeksOut.
(Her fiancee is supportive of the whole Chris Hemsworth and Kenny Loggins love thing.)
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