|Image from LA Times|
Calvin Coolidge "Cal" Worthington (November 27, 1920 - September 8, 2013) was an American car dealer well known throughout the West Coast of the United States, and to a more limited extent elsewhere due to minor appearances and parodies in a number of movies. He was best known for his unique radio and television advertisements for the Worthington Dealership Group. In these advertisements, he was usually joined by "his dog Spot," except that "Spot" was never a dog. Often, Spot was either a tiger, a seal, an elephant, a chimpanzee, or a bear. In one ad, "Spot" was a hippopotamus, which Worthington rode in the commercial. On some occasions, "Spot" was a vehicle, such as an airplane that Worthington would be seen standing atop the wings of while airborne. "Spot" was officially retired in the mid-1980s; however he was mentioned occasionally in his later commercials.Cal Worthington was a fixture on Southern California TV when we left for Anchorage in 1977. What an unpleasant shock to find out his tacky ads were on TV in Anchorage as well. 'Spot' was a bizarre menagerie of animals he posed with in his ads. But he was a very smooth talker.
According to a profile published in the Sacramento Bee in 1990, Worthington grossed $316.8 million in 1988, making him at the time the largest single owner of a car dealership chain. His advertising agency, named Spot Advertising, had Worthington as its only client and spent $15 million on commercials, the most of any auto dealer at the time. He sold automobiles from 1945 until his death and owned a 24,000-acre (9,700 ha; 37 sq mi) ranch located in Orland, California, north of Sacramento.
Here's the beginning of the LA Times Obituary:
Cal Worthington, the Oklahoma native whose old-time carnival flair built one of the most successful car dealerships west of the Mississippi, has died. He was 92.
Worthington died Sunday while watching football at his home on the Big W Ranch near Orland, Calif., said Brady McLeod of the Miles Law Firm in Sacramento, which represented Worthington.
Described as a cross between Dale Carnegie and Slim Pickens, Worthington was best known for his wacky television pitches that had him wrestling with a tiger, flying upside down on an airplane wing or riding a killer whale. His sales antics with his “Dog Spot” drove a career that took him from a three-car lot on a patch of Texas dirt to a multi-make dealership empire that grossed billions of dollars and stretched from Southern California to Alaska.