Cal Worthington, car dealer famed for TV ads, dies

LOS ANGELES

Dave Karalis, general manager of Cal Worthington Ford in Long Beach, said Worthington died Sunday after watching football with family at his Big W Ranch in Orland, Calif., north of Sacramento.

The Oklahoma native and former World War II pilot founded his first dealership in the late 1940s in Southern California. As his business empire grew to other western states and Alaska, Worthington starred in a series of TV and radio spots.

He was a fixture on local television throughout the 1970s and 1980s, thanks to his outlandish commercials.

At one point, he owned more than two dozen auto dealerships throughout Southern California.

Worthington downsized in recent years but was still involved in day-to-day operations at the Long Beach location.

Most recently, Worthington made headlines during a bitter divorce from his fourth wife, a 41-year-old singer from Iceland. When Eyewitness News spoke to Worthington in December of last year, he admitted that the proceedings were taking a toll.

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