cliffy

Interesting bio on a Southern Calif Icon in car sales

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Some of you may remember Cal and his dog named Spot from decades of hawking TV commercials for his dealerships.

Turns out to be just another Mooney pilot!

 

 

Cal Worthington – From B-17’s to Lear Jets: 70 Years of Flying Safely Cal Worthington was born November 27, 1920, in Shidler, Oklahoma. Cal is best known as a legendary car dealer who has sold millions of cars throughout the western United States for six decades. His early TV commercials featuring "my dog Spot", and his catchy theme song urging folks to “Go See Cal” have become cultural icons. What is less known about Cal is his long-time, passionate love affair with aviation. Cal served in the United States Army in World War II, flying for the Army Air Corps, where he was the aerobatics champion at Goodfellow Field in San Angelo, Texas. As a second lieutenant during the war, he served as a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot with the 390th Bomber Group, flying 29 missions over Germany, and was discharged after the war as a captain. Cal flew in some of the most dangerous campaigns of the European theatre, including leading raids over Berlin. He was awarded the Air Medal five times, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by Jimmy Doolittle. When the war ended and Cal began to develop his automobile empire, he never left aviation far behind. He grew his early Los Angeles dealership in the 60’s by flying his airplane and doing air traffic reports for a major local radio station. As Cal became more successful, his planes evolved from a Bonanza to a King Air, and ultimately to a Lear 24 and then Lear 35, which he based at his 23,000 acre Big W Ranch near Orland with its private 5,000 foot runway. During the mid-eighties, Cal routinely flew the Lear to 23 auto dealerships spread out from Texas to Alaska. But his normal commute was from the ranch to Sac Executive in his Mooney 201, and air traffic controllers knew to expect that early morning check-in from Mooney “74H” just south of the Sutter Buttes. When he wasn’t flying the Lear or Mooney, he was probably in the Aeronca, checking out the ranch crops or finding lost cattle. General aviation has played a role even in the people with whom Cal works. His ranch manager flies the company 182 to the various ranches that he manages for Cal, while Cal’s long-time personal attorney has been a pilot for over 30 years. Today, Cal relies on a great co-pilot in his son, Rod, a retired American Airlines Captain. Through it all, from B-17’s over Berlin, to Lear Jets over Orland, Cal has amassed over 10,000 hours in the air and has returned safely each time without incident or accident. That’s just one of the many records of which Mr. Worthington can be justifiably proud.

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*Members that donate $10 or more do not see advertisements*

Oh Christ, you just set off all those "Go see Cal, go see Cal, go see Cal" commercials in my head.  Arrrrrgh!!  Make it stop! :blink:

Grew up in San Diego...

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"I will stand upon my head, till my ears are turning red"

I grew up watching Cal commercials in SoCal.  Thank you for posting this information.   As we know, he was one of the very fortunate people to have survived all those B17 missions.......

WOW! Who'd uh thunked.......

 

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8 minutes ago, DrBill said:

never heard of him

West coast vintage icon we all grew up with on TV.

And, another fine American serving this country and survived the horrors of it all. 

Thank you Cal Worthington!

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His "My dog Spot" was a favorite of mine -- sometimes it was a dog, but often a bear, or a tiger, or something else with big teeth would be on the leash and leap up on the hood during car commercials in the 1960s.   Cal looked a bit nervous at times with a Bengal Tiger on the hood of a Dodge...

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Such fun memories!  Cal was a very smart fellow, investing so heavily in advertising.

He set the bar for all the others, including one of my other favorites, "High folks.  Ralph Williams here.   Owner of the worlds largest ford dealership, west of the Mississippi " :D

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Getting off topic I know, but let's not overlook , "I'm Earl Scheib, and I'll paint any car, any color for $19.95. No ups, no extras"

Wonder if Earl flew a Mooney too! ;)

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Sorry Mitch, I skipped the response...

The only time we saw Cal's ads were when they were used on Saturday Night Live.  Entertaining and funny, but the connection to an actual business was not really known...

Clearly Cal knew speed and efficiency are important.  :)

Was Cal's dog Spot a Texas long horn steer? (Or something like that?)

Best regards,

-a-

Edited by carusoam

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2 hours ago, carusoam said:

Sorry Mitch, I skipped the response...

The only time we saw Cal's ads were when they were used on Saturday Night Live.  Entertaining and funny, but the connection to an actual business was not really known...

Clearly Cal knew speed and efficiency are important.  :)

Was Cal's dog Spot a Texas long horn steer? (Or something like that?)

Best regards,

-a-

No, that would be Tax Earnhardt His ranch is on the 45 to RWY 22 at KCHD. He has dealerships all over Arizona and Nevada. He fly's a Cessna....

Tex.png

Edited by N201MKTurbo
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Growing up in the LA basin I had no idea Cal was also big in San Diego and Phoenix! Even more impressive :) but being a little kid then I knew nothing of aviation but sure liked his pets.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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From wiki....

"My Dog Spot" ads

For nearly a quarter-century, from the 1960s until the 1990s, Worthington ran a series of offbeat television and radio advertisements for his auto dealerships patterned loosely after the pioneering "oddball" advertisements of Earl "Madman" Muntz. They began as a parody of a competitor who appeared in advertisements with a puppy recently adopted from the pound.[1] They were known as the "My Dog Spot" ads because each commercial would introduce "Cal Worthington and his dog Spot!" However, the "dog" was never a dog. In most cases, it was an exotic animal being led around on a leash, such as a tiger or elephant. These commercials began as a parody of a long-running series of commercials produced by salesman Chick Lambert, who worked for multiple Los Angeles-area Ford dealers over many years. These commercials invariably began with "I'm Chick Lambert, Sales Manager here at Ralph Williams Ford, and this is my dog, Storm." Storm was a German Shepherd, who was usually lounging on the hood of the first car to be featured in the ad.

Worthington's commercials were seen on every television channel in Los Angeles throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, mostly through saturation advertising during the overnight hours. (It was also played in Ontario Canada) The commercials would be accompanied by a jingle set to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It"[disputed ] with the lyrics re-written to the refrain of "If you want a car or truck, go see Cal, if you want to save a buck, go see Cal" or "Give a new car to your wife, she will love you all your life", with "Go see Cal" repeated numerous times.[1] The final lines of the fifth verse stated: "I'll stand on my head/ Until my ears turn red/ Go see Cal, Go see Cal, /Go see Cal". When the idea of a jingle was first pitched to him, it was conceptualized as slow with a big roll up of drums; Worthington disagreed and felt the song should be fast and wrote the lyrics and recorded the song himself.[7] The jingle was successful. In the years following, Worthington discovered that there were children who thought that his name was "Go see Cal."[7]

Among the many creatures that were featured as "Spot" were a killer whale from SeaWorld, a lion, an elephant, a goose, a tiger, a bull, various snakes, a rhinoceros, a skunk, a bear, a roller-skating chimpanzee, a carabao (water buffalo), and a hippopotamus. In addition to the many animals that were featured, one of Cal Worthington's "Spots" was Deacon Jones, at the time one of the "Fearsome Foursome" of the NFL's Los Angeles Rams, who sang the "Go See Cal" jingle. Worthington made deals with two local circuses to obtain animals for the commercial shoots. He also made use of individual owners who commonly leased their animals to film and television shoots in nearby Hollywood.[7]

In some commercials, Worthington would claim he would do a stunt for a sale, such as eating a bug or "stand upon my head 'til my ears are turning red." According to a spokesman for the Television Bureau of Advertising, Worthington "is probably the best known car dealer pitchman in television history."

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Legacy Ford in Houston is owned by an Acclaim driver and founding member of the Mooney Caravan Texas Wing.

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My dad went to school with the son of a used car dealer, who grew up to greatly expand the Hennessy dealerships in Atlanta. Being a Son of the South, I also never heard of Cal; don't think there was anyone like him back this way . . . Those of you who know of him will have to decide if that's good or bad. But the bio above sure is good, and sounds like he was an interesting man. Around here, we'd call him eccentric, a title I'm aiming at myself but am only a couple million dollars short of qualifying for.  :(

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On 3/20/2017 at 7:50 PM, Hank said:

My dad went to school with the son of a used car dealer, who grew up to greatly expand the Hennessy dealerships in Atlanta. Being a Son of the South, I also never heard of Cal; don't think there was anyone like him back this way . . . Those of you who know of him will have to decide if that's good or bad. But the bio above sure is good, and sounds like he was an interesting man. Around here, we'd call him eccentric, a title I'm aiming at myself but am only a couple million dollars short of qualifying for.  :(

Eccentric- crazy, but with money! :D

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I’m going to resurrect an old thread for my first post. I am buying Cal’s 201 as my first plane. Great memories from SoCal.

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Funny that I just started singing this before Xmas. My staff thought I’d gone nuts. Since all of them all grew up in Canada, they had no clue what I was talking about. 

So.... I google it and played it on repeat for about an hour. 

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We had Cal on the Seattle cable channels in the 80's in Victoria BC. I remember it well.

 

Thanks for putting that back in my head....

 

iain

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