Cal Worthington’s humorous TV ads made the flamboyant car dealer a local LA legend.
The late Gene Roddenberry also made his Star Trek TV series and movies in LA, hub of the entertainment industry.
And I don’t think you’d lose money if you bet Cal Worthington’s commercials occasionally aired during syndicated reruns of Star Trek on LA stations. Otherwise, I never knew that these two icons of the airwaves had anything but television in common until David Klaus sent me an item just before Veterans Day.
As young men, both Cal and Gene had the same, very important job in America’s military: they both piloted B-17 bombers in World War II.
Roddenberry flew 89 missions in the Pacific, receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal.
Cal Worthington flew 29 missions over Germany during World War II, received five Air Medals and was presented the Distinguished Flying Cross by General Jimmy Doolittle himself.
You might say Gene and Cal also had another similarity: they were associated in the public mind with exotic and unusual creatures. While Roddenberry’s had different names — “horta,” “Denebian slime devil” etc. — Cal’s all had the same name: “Spot.”
Cal created “my dog Spot” to parody the commercials of another TV pitchman who always introduced “my dog, Storm,” his pet German shepherd. Cal’s original “dog Spot” was an enraged gorilla. The joke has since been repeated many times in other commercials, the creatures named Spot varying from a tiger to a killer whale – and an infamous goose that accompanied Cal to The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and ruined Carson’s suit.
[Thanks to David Klaus for the story.]