Cal Worthington, the ultimate showman car salesman, died on Monday at his Big W Ranch outside Sacramento, Calif. He was 92.

Worthington was among a batch of auto dealers from the 50s to the 80s who used their infectious personalities and a slew of crazy stunts to attract the attention of TV viewers through their commercial spots. Sporting a cowboy hat that accentuated his tall stature, Worthington would promise his clients that he’d “stand on my head to make you a deal.” And, stand on his head – on the roof of a car no less – he did.

A frequent sidekick of Worthington in his TV ads was his dog Spot. Spot, however, was not a dog and was actually not any particular animal at all. In one commercial, his dog Spot would be a tiger; in another he’d be a gorilla. A mainstay in every ad was the honky tonk refrain of “Go see Cal!” that matched Worthington’s Oklahoma twang and would play in the background of the spots.

Two contemporaries of Worthington were Earl “Madman” Muntz and Ralph Williams, but Worthington’s fame eclipsed them both. After becoming a local Los Angeles celebrity, he was offered appearances on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson among other widely watched shows. His local dealership eventually spread to a number of other cities.


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Worthington is survived by six children and nine grandchildren.

– Chelsea Regan

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