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Letters: Remembering Cal Worthington

September 11, 2013
  • Cal Worthington and a tiger portraying his dog, Spot, pose for a portrait at his Long Beach dealership in 1976. Worthington estimated he sold a million cars in his 65-year career.
Cal Worthington and a tiger portraying his dog, Spot, pose for a portrait… (Michael Ochs Archives,…)

Re "Car dealer with dog Spot," Obituary, Sept. 10

I remember as a young boy watching Sunday morning television on our fuzzy, black-and-white, 12-inch screen while waiting for my mom and dad to get ready for church. I'd watch lengthy car commercials, briefly interrupted with B-movie Westerns; that, or old movies frequently interrupted with commercial breaks for Worthington Dodge in Long Beach.

Whatever it was Cal Worthington was doing in the era of early, evolving TV in the 1950s, it felt like a seat-of-the-pants, try-anything infomercial circus, complete with country bands, movies, cars, any number of animals — and good old Cal.

Chuck Ayers

Tulsa, Okla.

Worthington really was an extraordinary pitchman, though he did make some mistakes. I remember one early in his career.

In the summer of 1965, Worthington was advertising on a Saturday movie matinee television show. But on this particular Saturday, the movie was preempted by news coverage of the Watts riots.

Instead of the movie, we were watching pictures of burning buildings, National Guard convoys and utter chaos. Amid the carnage and confusion, the TV station went to commercial, and there was Worthington advertising his cars. The first thing he said was that he hoped we were enjoying the show.

That commercial aired only once, and he never repeated that salutation.

Glenn Barnett


In 1973, I was the director of the UCLA Speakers Program, and the first celebrity I brought to campus was Worthington. He brought with him his "dog" Spot — a baby elephant — and paraded him up Bruin Walk. He stayed for questions from the hundreds of students.

He was a great sport who enjoyed his celebrity. He was also a very nice man.

Allan Kandel

Los Angeles


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