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.”

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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?

Meet “Murphy” the Mirthmobile…And the AMC Pacer!

Before Murphy…and the Mirthmobile…

Picture it, 1976…a small-wide car called…THE PACER!

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The First “Wide Small” Car!

The American Motors Corporation (aka “AMC”) Pacer was touted as the first “wide small” car (and nicknamed “The Flying Fishbowl”). The Pacer was produced from 1975 until 1979. Despite its short life, The Pacer became a pop culture icon in 1992, upon the release of the Saturday Night Live-inspired feature film Wayne’s World.

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Iconic!

The beauty part about fans and geekism is that someone is always ready to re-create an icon, right down to the painstaking little details.

I proudly present…

Murphy The Mirthmobile!

Hello Murphy! This is the exact model of Pacer used in the film – the 1976 model! Murphy has New York license plates (mild disappointment!), but the other details are spot on perfect! As a Wayne’s World fan/geek/meticulous observer, details are mas importante!

And for $20 per person (or $10 per person wearing VIP lanyards), visiting Murphy gets you ample photos, choice seating…

You can also play Wayne and Garth…

Guess whose “blonde” hair worked out for Garth?

And sample the Red Rope Licorice!

Did I Mention The Most Excellent Mirth-morabilia?

I have the soundtrack for both movies…on cassette!

Also, I covered the VCR board game in a previous Retroist article!

Most Excellent Mirthmobile (and Murphy!) Related Content

Wizard World Description – Murphy The Mirthmobile

AMC Pacer Information – Wikipedia Article

This Pawn Stars segment…

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That Darn Stairway Dilemma…

If you must know, James did ask. :-)

(Another) Most Excellent Related Wizard World Chicago 2017 Experience Article

Deeds And Dirtbikes: The Vehicles of “Megaforce”! : Convention photos of screen-used vehicles from the 1982 film Megaforce…and my butt sitting pretty on the dirtbike!

On a silly side note, I saw Murphy driving down River Road in Rosemont, Illinois from my hotel room window. Can’t miss that detail!

Perhaps it was headed for…Aurora?

Deeds And Dirtbikes: The Vehicles of “Megaforce”!

Megaforce? You mean that laughable movie about a secret army, starring Barry Bostwick and Persis Khambatta? Megaforce, that movie where the dirtbike flips upside down?

Oh yes, Megaforce!

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Highlights of ComiCon

Think of your ComiCon experiences. What do you like the most? Celebrity encounters (love them), and the vendors that create opportunities to spend way too much money (love that too)? Both sound great!

There’s another thing I love about ComiCon…

Vehicles!

And awesome people posing with me!

It’s true – I love a good pose with a movie-used (or even replicated – I’m not picky!) vehicle!

I especially love it when the vehicles are movie-used AND obscure!

You Mean You’ve Never Heard of Megaforce?

Megaforce is a 1982 “action” film starring Barry Bostwick as Commander Ace Hunter. He’s the leader of a secret army composed of international soldiers. And his services are called upon when the peaceful republic of Sardun is attacked by its aggressive neighbor, Gamibia. The film also stars Persis Khambatta, and was directed by Hal Needham.

Ah yes, Hal Needham. That explains some of the absurd stuff in the movie.

Let this Mentos parody explain that absurdity:

Upload via Clarkthek

Yep.

If this doesn’t clue you into the absurdity of the film, nothing will.

Ok, three Golden Raspberry nominations explain everything.

The Vehicles of Megaforce

Behold, the reason you’re reading this!

The dirtbike and dune buggy pictures above are – brace thyself – actual movie-used vehicles. Normally with shows like this, one expects replicas built from scratch. But no, these are the real deal.

For $10, I too could be Barry Bostwick on a tricked out dirtbike, capable of flying through the chroma key skies…

I’m missing spandex, a mullet, and a baby blue headband. But I feel awesome!

The proud displayer of these amazing vehicles was happy to show me everything, including the inside of the dune buggy. He also told me an awesome story from that weekend, when he met Barry Bostwick and asked him to come take a look. Apparently, Mr. Bostwick was so excited to see the vehicles, he stayed there for – again, brace thyself – 45 minutes!

I guess he didn’t care that the movie is watchable only with a Rifftrax commentary.

All Coolness Aside…

The vehicles of Megaforce (unfortunately) have the distinction of making the cut of  The Drive’s August 6, 2017 “listicle,” Top 5 Worst Movie Vehicles of the 1980s. In fact…they’re the #1 worst vehicles.

True story.

Tack on the commercial and critical failure that followed its theatrical release, and you have the ultimate cheese that’s prime for RiffTrax viewing.

Take in this sampling (I actually own this movie in its riffed form):

Upload via Mondo Connie

Unfortunately, searching the RiffTrax site yielded no results, so I can’t say “hey, go out and buy this!”.

So um…now I’m bummed.

But this is still awesome!

 Silver Lining?

The Olds Connection’s Camcorder Offer…Dude!

That’s right, the “Olds Connection” wants to give you a camcorder so you can be on TV!

We Can All Be On TV!

In the summer of 1991, Oldsmobile (excuse me, the Olds Connection!) aimed to make stars out of its car buyers. So they offered a $1100 camcorder with the purchase of a 1992 Oldsmobile Eighty Eight. In August 1991, the promo was so successful, they extended the offer through the end of the month.

The aim of the promo? Being in a commercial, of course!

Regular People Buying Oldsmobiles!

The commercial featured regular people…

Wearing awesome early 1990s Mom Pants…

Liking traction control (optional feature, folks!)

The trunk space, DUDE!

Let’s see that again…via GIPHY MAGIC!

MAGIC…Dude!

And Now That You Know Who Likes the Olds Connection’s Offer…

Why not click play and see these people in action?

Uploaded by Allison Venezio

So…Why This Promo?

The 1992 Oldsmobile Eighty Eight, Oldsmobile’s full-size premium sedan, was redesigned for its 1992 model. Hence, people talking about what they loved most about the redesign. The promo occurred during the summer of 1991 (this commercial aired during that summer’s telecast of the Primetime Emmy Awards), and ran through August 31, 1991.

It’s safe to say people really like their Oldsmobile Eighty Eight, and Oldsmobile kept the model going until 1999. Sadly, Oldsmobile was not much longer for the world, as the close of the decade brought about the final years for the General Motors brand.

We’ll always have Mom Pants, Old Guy Who Likes Traction Control, and…the trunk space, dude!

But if you really wanted an Oldsmobile or a camcorder…I’d love to know if anyone went for this deal. There is nothing on the interwebs about it, but surely someone has a story out there…