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Cal Worthington and his 'dog' Spot

Cal Worthington and his ‘dog’ Spot

January 1974: Cal Worthington with his “dog” Spot – actually a bear this time – during filming of one of his television commercials.

In the Jan. 29, 1974, Los Angeles Times, staff writer Charles T. Powers reported:

Cal Worthington is 53 and, for almost 30 years, has been a man held captive by the car business. He doesn’t like it and never has, but he’s made so doggone much money at it he doesn’t know how to get out.

The car business bores and bothers him, a fact that may come as a shock to his fans, the people who are glad to see ol’ Cal–friend of every insomniac in Southern California–riding a hippopotamus across the TV screen at 2:30 in the morning….

Since he sponsors about half the late movies in town, running right up to 6 in the morning, it isn’t unusual to spin the TV dial and see him making his pitch on three or four channels at once. Cal Worthington is part of the Los Angeles experience. He is a living civic monument to the automobile…

The ads always introduced “Cal Worthington and his dog Spot!” but the “dog” was never a dog. Besides the bear in the above photo, Worthington appeared with a lion, elephant, goose, chimpanzee, hippopotamus, snakes and numerous other animals.

This photo by former staff photographer Marianna Diamos accompanied Powers’ article in the Jan. 29, 1974 Los Angeles Times.


  1. August 8, 2013, 3:55 am

    I remember when the bear showede Worthington only had 5 gallons of hair in his ten gallon hat. I really liked Chick Lambert, with his dog, Storm. I remember Chick used to do the commercials for Ralph Williams Ford and Chrysler / Plymouth shops.

    i heard he went bonkers on Ralph Williams, with a commercial. I saw it and could bnot stop laughing. Almopst as good as the scene out of "Used Cars" (1980), with Gerritt Graham shooting up a competitor's car lot and then blowing up a Mercedes Benz, while Jimmy Carter is giving a speech on TV.

    By: Steven Moshlak
  2. August 8, 2013, 4:41 pm

    Cal used to videotape his commercials at KCOP 13 on LaBrea. These spots were videotaped on old Ampex tape machines so FILM was NEVER used in the studio ads. Action in Advertising was the agency that Cal used. He once brought in a baby elephant that had a FULL bladder. When this elephant let loose, there was more than 2 gallons to be cleaned up under the temporary floor tiles on Stage 41 at KCOP. It smelled pretty bad!!!! The good old days of TV in Los Angeles.

    By: chin

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