Seeing that Cal Worthington had died made me sad, a hole having been bored by his passing representing a further Swiss cheesing of the once unchinked fabric of video Americana. Worthington, for those who don’t know, was a car salesman whose commercials, playing throughout the long, movied nights on Los Angeles television, burrowed themselves into the consciousness of several generations of persons plus Johnny Carson monologues and like that. My affection notwithstanding, I have to admit the timbre of his ads, their unashamed cornball aspect, helped crystallize my understanding of Los Angelenos as, basically, hayseeds. Their bland, Midwestern insurance salesman-type local personalities like Bill Welsh and unofficial mayor of Hollywood, Johnny Whatsisname; the other beloved, perpetual TV spots, such as the unwittingly racist “Adee do” commercials (featuring Jack Stephanovich!), even the Sparkletts water man, spoke to me of Rotary meetings in Indiana, not the factory town responsible for exporting its popular culture to the world.
I will, of course, miss him.
I guess I already did.