Cal Worthington, car dealer famed for TV ads, dies at 92

This undated photo released by Worthington Ford Inc. shows a photo of Cal Worthington car dealer famed for TV ads. Worthington, who built a fortune from a series of West Coast car dealerships and became a TV fixture thanks to commercials urging customers to "go see Cal," has died. He was 92. (AP Photo/Worthington Ford Inc.)

LOS ANGELES — Cal Worthington, who built a fortune from a series of West Coast auto dealerships and became a TV fixture thanks to folksy car lot commercials urging customers to “Go see Cal,” has died. He was 92.

Worthington died Sunday after watching football with family at his Big W Ranch in Orland, Calif., north of Sacramento, said Dave Karalis, general manager of Cal Worthington Ford in Long Beach.

The cause of death has not been determined, family attorney Larry Miles said.

The Oklahoma native, who was a decorated bomber pilot during World War II, founded his first dealership in the late 1940s in Southern California and quickly took advantage of broadcast advertising.

As his business empire grew to other western states and Alaska, Worthington starred in a series of TV and radio spots that featured him in his ever-present big white cowboy hat and his “dog” Spot — which would turn out to be animals ranging from tigers to elephants.

He also wrestled a bear, handled a snake, rode a hippopotamus and a pig, and almost had his hand bit by a mountain lion. Viewers frequently saw him trying to stand on his head, including a stint atop the upper wing of a biplane that turned him on his head. All of it was set to a speedy banjo tune with the refrain, “Go see Cal, go see Cal, go see Cal.”

At one point, Worthington owned more than 23 dealerships in five states, according to a family statement.

Born Nov. 27, 1920, Worthington joined the Army and became a B-17 bomber pilot, flying 29 missions over Germany and earning the Distinguished Flying Cross and other honors.

After the war he continued to fly a variety of aircraft, including a Lear 35, a twin-engine jet that he based at his sprawling ranch, which is a large producer of almonds and olives.

Last year, he addressed a Federal Aviation Administration seminar at the Aerospace Museum of California in McClellan, Calif., on how he managed so many years of flying safely. His last flight was from Anchorage, Alaska, to California, 10 days before his death, Miles said.

He is survived by six children and nine grandchildren.

More

Ketchikan theater named for Elizabeth Peratrovich

KETCHIKAN — Elizabeth Peratrovich’s name now stands over the theater in the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center, placed there by the U.S. Forest Service and the Alaska Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood and revealed in an emotional ceremony on Thursday.

Read more

Waste not: Ferries’ flushing bill wins Senate support, 16-2

The Alaska Senate voted 16-2 Friday to cut a break in the state’s environmental regulations for small cruise ships and the Alaska Marine Highway.

Read more

Kenai Peninsula pot businesses may add $5M boost to economy

KENAI — With several marijuana businesses up and running on the Kenai Peninsula in south-central Alaska, industry estimates show the businesses could contribute $5.3 million annually to the local economy.

Read more

CONTACT US

  • Switchboard: 907-586-3740
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-586-3740
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Business Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-523-2230
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback

ADVERTISING

SUBSCRIBER SERVICES

SOCIAL NETWORKING