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California car king Cal Worthington dead at 92

Sept. 9, 2013 at 4:35 PM

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- Auto dealer Cal Worthington, whose off-the-wall television commercials helped him build a business empire, died in California at 92, his attorney said Monday.

Worthington was watching football at his home near Orland when he died, attorney Brady McLeod told the Los Angeles Times.

Worthington parlayed his folksy Oklahoma roots and relentless use of television advertising beginning in the 1970s, into one of the largest and most successful networks of car dealerships west of the Mississippi. At one point, Worthington commercials were aired 50,000 times in one year at a cost of $12 million.

Worthington wrote his own material, which often included himself on camera wearing a cowboy hat and appearing with "my dog, Spot," which turned out to be a bear or frog or hippopotamus --- anything but an actual dog. Other ads featured Worthington flying on a winger-walker plane or riding a killer whale, the Times said.

Worthington began his career with a small car lot in Texas and in 1950 purchased a dealership in Huntington Park, Calif. He continued to expand until his multi-brand dealership chain stretched from Southern California to Alaska and raked in billions of dollars.

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