No, that’s not a typo. I said ‘dogs’ plural and I meant ‘dogs’. Cal Worthington, budget car dealer extraordinare, saturated the Los Angeles late night airwaves throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s with ads like the three contained in the above video. ‘His dog Spot’, as you’ll see, was never a dog and sometimes wasn’t even an animal—I recall one ad in which Cal’s ‘dog’ was a Bi-Plane with Cal riding on one of the wings. Now, you’re not going to believe this but this Wikipedia article about Worthington is actually one of the most fascinating I’ve ever read. Far from simply being a local car dealer, Worthington was worth hundreds of millions of dollars, owning land, office buildings, malls etc. as well as having seen World War 2 aviation action as a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress pilot (if you don’t much about aviation check this video out–the FFs were pretty frigging awesome). He claimed that his only real ambition was to become a pilot but that his lack of a college degree prevented him from pursuing this career.

The physical reach of the Worthington Dealership Group would eventually cover a large portion of the southwestern and western United States. The company at its peak had 29 dealerships. As of 2002, he also owned three shopping centers and one office tower, grossing $600 million a year. Worthington was married and divorced four times. He never owned a car, instead borrowing one for sale from his dealerships. Worthington said in 2007 that he disliked selling automobiles, but “just kind of got trapped in it after the war. I didn’t have the skills to do anything else. I just wanted to fly.” I have to assume his descendents aren’t as disappointed as he was. Worthington died in 2013 at the age of 92, leaving behind seven children and a pile of grandkids. While I was often pissed at him as a kid for constantly interrupting movies I was watching I must admit that having rediscovered these commercials over the past few days has been a genuine pleasure. And how about that tiger that he cozies up to? Yikes…


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