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Legendary car dealer Cal Worthington dies
Cal Worthington, the legendary car dealer who became famous for his "Go See Cal" TV commercials, died at his Orland ranch on Sunday while watching football with his family.
Worthington, 92, was set to host the 10th annual "Splendor in the Valley" on Satuday, a Glenn Medical Center Foundation benefit to purchase hospital equipment for Glenn Medical Center in Willows.
Worthington, whose commercials featuring "My dog Spot" rocketed him to fame in the 1970s, died from an age-related heart condition, his family said.
It is the family's wishes that the Splendor in the Valley benefit will go on as scheduled, a Foundation spokeswoman said Monday.
With Worthington's help, Splendor in the Valley has raised approximately $400,000 for the Glenn Medical Foundation to make improvements to the hospital, and the purchase of state-of-the-art medical equipment, Foundation President Hoover Mock said.
The event has been held every year at Worthington's "Big W" ranch on County Road 28.
Worthington is best known for his long-standing series of offbeat television commercials featuring "My dog Spot."
Of course, Spot was never a dog, but a tiger, an elephant, a roller-skating chimpanzee, a various snake, a rhinoceros or another animal, which sent children racing to the television whenever they heard Worthington's voice.
"I was just trying to sell cars to adults," Worthington said to Tri-County Newspapers in 2012.
By 1990, Worthington was the most successful single-owner of a car dealership chain in the world, according to a published profile.
"When I got out of the war, I saved up about $1,200 to start my first business," Worthington said last year. "I rented an old gas station for $25 dollars a month. My light bill was about $3 a month, so my total overhead was only $28."
Worthington's fast-paced "Go See Cal" jingle, which ran from the 1960s to the 1990s was set to the tune "If You're Happy and You Know it," which he wrote and performed.
Worthington's fame rose elsewhere in the nation, due to multiple appearances and parodies in a number of movies, and his appearances on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson.
On Mondays, Worthington was in recording studio on the ranch doing commercial work for his many dealerships.
Mock said Worthington's graciousness and generosity in hosting Splendor in the Valley for the past 10 years has helped the Glenn Medical Foundation provide the hospital with mammography, a laprascopic surgery system, a patient telemetry system, a picture archival computer system, updated patient rooms, C-Arm and laryngoscope, sleep study rooms and new ultra sound equipment.
The Foundation had intended – with Worthington's help — to outfit a new hospital when it is built in Willows.
That project is still years away.
"We are looking forward to having a new, more functional hospital to serve the needs in our community by the end of this decade," Mock said.
There is still time to purchase tickets to Saturday's event, Mock said.
The cost is $125 per person.
Worthington, who missed last year's Splendor in the Valley due to illness, was said to be looking forward to Saturday's event, and had recently been featured on a local news program talking about the benefit.