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Cal Worthington, car salesman, animal lover, comedian, dies at 92

Car dealer Cal Worthington and one of his many animals named "Spot."

Cal Worthington, the iconic car dealer and commercial pitchman who shared the television spotlight for decades with a variety of animals all named Spot, has died.

Worthington, 92, passed away Sept. 8 while watching football on television at his home in Orland, California.

One of nine children, Worthington was raised in Oklahoma. An avid and decorated pilot, Worthington flew 29 missions over Europe as a bomber pilot in World War II. He also flew a Lear jet for many years.

Car dealer Cal Worthington and one of his many animals named "Spot."
Car dealer Cal Worthington and one of his many animals named “Spot.”

Worthington began his long car salesman career in Texas in 1950 and he prospered. He was a millionaire by age 30 and eventually owned dozens of car dealerships and had real estate interests in several states.

With his homespun demeanor, large white cowboy hat and myriad co-stars, Worthington’s legacy grew with his longstanding series of TV commercials.

Worthington used animals, including an Elephant, Tiger and Dolphin (but never a dog) in commercials. All of his co-stars were identified as his dog Spot. The joke was meant to mimic other rival auto dealers who used dogs in commercials.

Worthington was a fast talker and it worked well. He described nearly a dozen cars in some commercials, showcased the Spot-named animal of choice and then recited a corny and endearing jingle.

“If you need a better car, go see Cal. For the best deal by far go see Cal.”

Worthington is survived by six children and nine grandchildren.


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