So long, Cal

Iconic car salesman Cal Worthington dies at 92 years old

The North State lost an icon last weekend with the passing of car-dealership owner Calvin “Cal” Worthington, whose offbeat TV commercials involving animals made him famous in California and beyond, starting in the 1960s.

Donning a cowboy hat, the longtime Orland resident’s gimmick in his advertising campaigns was to introduce his dog, Spot, while actually riding an elephant, or walking a tiger or some other exotic creature. Those spots—accompanied by the extremely catchy jingle “Go see Cal, go see Cal, go see Cal”—stopped airing in the 1980s.

Worthington (pictured), a World War II veteran who flew the B-17 Flying Fortress in 29 missions over Germany, was an Oklahoma native and lifelong pilot. He moved to Southern California in 1949, opening a car dealership in Huntington Park. Over the years, Worthington Dealership Group expanded operations across the West Coast, owning nearly 30 car dealerships at its peak.

At his sprawling Orland ranch, Worthington raised cattle and farmed. He died at home Sept. 8 in the company of his family at the age of 92.