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Cal Worthington

  • Birthplace: Bly, Oklahoma
  • Birthday: November 27
Date of passing: 
September 08, 2013

Obituary

Obituary: 

Cal Worthington, a car dealer whose quirky, catchy commercials, first broadcast in the 1950s, aired on California television for decades and made him a pop-culture fixture, died September 8, 2013, at his ranch in Orland, California. He was 92.

Cal Worthington, a car dealer whose quirky, catchy commercials, first broadcast in the 1950s, aired on California television for decades and made him a pop-culture fixture, died September 8, 2013, at his ranch in Orland, California. He was 92.

A native of Oklahoma, Worthington grew up in poverty and dropped out of school at 13, but eventually achieved enormous success as a car salesman in the highly competitive market in southern California. Worthington built his business with a barrage of commercials — first in radio, later in television — that melded music, stunts, and a menagerie of animals. (In absurd juxtaposition to his catch phrase, "I'm Cal Worthingon, and this is my dog Spot," he would share the screen with hippos, iguanas, snakes —but never a dog.)

Then, of course, there was his incessant, banjo-backed jingle, to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It," each of its many verses ending with the tag line: "Go see Cal, go see Cal, go see Cal."

Sample lyric:

If you need a better car, go see Cal / For the best deal by far, go see Cal / If you want your payments low, if you want to save some dough / 
Go see Cal, go see Cal, go see Cal.

Whether you loved or hated Worthington's spots — which at times aired as many as 100 times a day — they were undeniably effective.

In the 1980s he sold $200-$300 million worth of cars annually. Over the years he acquired eight ranches in California and Nevada, shopping centers and an office building. At his death, he owned five dealerships, including the flagship Ford dealership in Long Beach, which he bought in 1974.

Read more about his life and career at: New York Times

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