Saturday, March 09, 2019

Weekend Post

In the '60s and '70s local car dealer commercials were big in California.  They would sponsor late night movies and old reruns.  A big car dealer in LA was Ralph Williams Ford.  Another was Cal Worthington who had several local auto dealerships.   Ralph Williams became kind of a national personality when Johnny Carson used to joke about him on THE TONIGHT SHOW.

Ralph originally did his commercials himself but eventually turned the mic over to a great TV pitchman, Chick Lambert.   Ralph expanded his empire, opening car dealerships in other places like San Bruno in the San Francisco area.  Chick Lambert did those commercials too.

Here's one he obviously made for a blooper reel or the Christmas party.  There are some who believed this aired live.  It did not.  By the '60s these car commercials were pre-taped.  There's even a slate at the beginning of the spot. 

But it's hilarious and the car commercial you WISH you could see live.  Enjoy. 


Phil said...

My reaction:

Anonymous said...

So Ken what's your opinion on highly localized jokes (aka ones that only make sense to people in LA or NYC?) Cool way of establishing some local flavor, or just an annoyance to the rest of the country?

Unknown said...

In Seattle we had Dick Balch, who would smash cars with a sledge hammer.

Jeff Boice said...

Ralph Williams and his dog Storm were also up in Seattle ("on Aurora Avenue in the GREAT city of Seattle"). There's a Seattle version of this ad- Ralph didn't last long in the Jet City, either the Boeing Bust or the State Attorney General forced him out.

But the quintessential 70's Seattle car dealer was Dick Balch who looked like a hippie and in his ads he would cackle and bash his cars with a sledgehammer. Hey, times were tough in early 70's Seattle, he had to do something to stand out. And it worked- at least until the early 80's.

cd1515 said...

Friday question, Ken your reaction to this?

I’ve seen the show a few times—-the star who is also the show runner I believe has been naked, could this have just been a case of her saying “if I can do it so can you”?
Also is it common for the star and show runner to be the same person and what problems does that create?

Coram_Loci said...

Go to Hell!

To Big Bill Hell's
(And bring your wife)

Jeff Maxwell said...

Wow. FuNNNNNEEEEE. He was good! Maybe a little too true? Probably would have sold more cars if it had aired.

Mike Bloodworth said...

Great clip, Ken.
Damn! I'm old enough to remember Ralph Williams. I believe one dealership was on Ventura Blvd. in Encino. I don't however, remember Mr. Lambert. What year was that? Maybe by that time I was watching less TV.
One thing's for sure, I would love to have one of those old, bomber, station wagons. (Gas mileage excepted)

Frank Beans said...

That's the funniest thing I've seen in a long time, and I binge-watch FRASIER.

Ron Rettig said...

I remember when the dealership was owned by he character actor Leon Ames who sold it to Williams. After Williams owned it I worked at Studio City BofA in summers and when I went to dealer to pick up auto sale contracts I was swarmed by salesmen bore they recognized me as a bank courier and not potential sale!

Anonymous said...

In Chicago we had, what I nbeleive, was Courtesy motors.
On either friday or saturday night they would sponsor a movie. On WGN I think
During that movie they would have an introductory ad then during the movie they would only have a single 15 minute ad. Otherwise movie was uninterrupted.
Amazing could go to washroom, make a sandwich, refill any drinks and would still end up seeing about 5 minutes of the ads.

Buttermilk Sky said...

I assume he was the inspiration for the Firesign Theater's Ralph Spoilsport Motors ("in the city of Emphysema"). Those guys were all Southern Californians.

"Let's just look at the extras on this fabulous car..."

YEKIMI said...

That location is still a car dealership....selling Hondas it looks like.

Madame Smock said...

Cal Worthington was giving away Brockabrella's to anyone visiting the car lot. What is a Brockabrella you ask. It's an umbrella hat invented by baseball hall of fame player Lou Brock.

Mike Doran said...

WBKB, Channel 7, ABC in Chicago:
(Music: "Pomp And Circumstance", by Elgar.)

Jim Moran, Your Courtesy Man! …

The Midwest's largest Ford dealer! …

… presents Your Courtesy Theatre!

For much of the Fifties and early Sixties, Jim Moran, a genial, soft-spoken gentleman who'd gotten into Chicago TV at the start of everything, hosted a Friday night movie on Channel 7.
Moran was a bit of a movie buff, and ch7 was one of the first stations in town to buy movies in bulk for late night use.
Example: Ch7's manager, Red Quinlan, talked the ABC O&O stations into taking Movietime USA, which was the entire RKO film library - 800 some-odd titles.
Jim Moran got first pick of these for Friday nights: this means he got Gunga Din, Citizen Kane, King Kong, Mighty Joe Young, the John Ford/John Wayne westerns, the Wayne war movies, the Astaire/Rogers musicals, and all the top-of-the-line RKO stuff.
Moran's commercials were beloved: the softest sell in town, minimal interruptions of the movie, and his standard return to the feature: "Torture Time is over."

Mind you, in Chicago we had our fair share of shouters, selling new and used cars (You Auto Buy NOW!, coined by no less than Bill Veeck), along with just about any other product that could afford an hour of TV time (to this day I get cold chills just hearing the name Charles Antell, King of Lanolin).

God, this is depressing …

Anonymous said...

Cal Worthington made fun of the Ralph Williams commercials with his "dog Spot" ads that were mostly shot in the parking lot of KCOP TV. One day, the dog Spot was a tiger, brought on the lot by truck in a cage. As it arrived, the stage manager came out on the loading dock and said if that tiger is let out of the cage, we're all walking off the set. They finally chromakeyed (green screen in those days) Cal and the tiger in from Cal's dealership.

Al in PDX said...

Since Buttermilk Sky brought up Firesign Theater and Ralph Spoilsport motors ...

Judy said...

Oh my gosh - hilarious! Thank you for that! True belly laughs on that one. Missed that scene (of those commercials et al) up here in Canada. Oh Ken, you never fail to make whatever day I'm having a better one.

E. Yarber said...

Little bit of synchronicity here for me, since Friday night's double feature was HEAD and Sinatra's OCEAN 11, with Jack Nicholson's stream of consciousness screenplay in the former mixing Ralph Williams commercials into the edit.

Ted said...

Spielberg is getting a backlash for his attempts to stop Netflix from winning the Oscar.

Peter said...

Those 93 seconds are funnier than every Tyler Perry film combined.

LAPrGuy said...

Love the kicker: “Five year’s payments ... you can’t get even.”

Peter said...

Apparently there was a campaign by Trump supporters encouraging people to boycott Captain Marvel. Their problem with it? It's a superhero movie with a female superhero.

The result. A worldwide opening weekend of $455 million.

It's like the time they vowed to boycott Hamilton. That worked out well for them too didn't it.

Producers and directors should actively hope to be boycotted by Trump supporters, as it guarantees box office gold.

The irony is that they call everyone else snowflakes and here they are all butthurt because a woman is the star of a superhero movie.

I can't wait to see Captain Marvel. Trump supporters can always watch their Cannonball Run and Passion of the Christ DVDs.

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

I remember those "It's Cal Worthington and his dog Spot!" commercials. Was it Cal or someone else who ended his commercials with, "If I can't get you the best deal on a car or truck, I'll eat a a bug!"

-- Damian

Mike Barer said...

The Ralph Williams ads ran on channel 11 from Tacoma, so I watched them growing up in Eastern Washington. Then when I first moved to the area, there was Cal Worthington and his dog Spot. Our own crazy guy that I remember was Jack Roberts, who sold appliance. He had a magnificent catch phrase "I will not be undersold"!

Anonymous said...

To Mike Doran
Thank you for having a better memory then I

Storm said...

I can't remember actually useful shit, like state capitols or how to multiply fractions, but I'll go to my grave remembering the ditty:

"Pete Ellis Dodge!
Long Beach Freeway
Firestone Exit

And there's one from S.F. in the 80's that gave the locations of a business; I think it was a chain of camera/film stores?

San Lorenzo

Damned if I remember their name, but their jungle was seriously catchy.

Cheers, thanks a lot,


Sean said...

I grew up in NoCal and still remember the Cal Worthington commercials. And his dog, Spot. Which was never a dog. But was instead a lion, tiger, or a bear. Oh my!

If you need a car or truck, and you wanna save a buck,
Go see Cal. go see Cal. Go see Cal!

TimWarp said...

Johnny Carson couldn't have done it better! Thanks for the share!

John Nixon said... might be remembering commercials done by Tom Campbell. I don't know what the stores were in the San Jose area but in San Diego it was Dow Stereo ("wait a minute, HOLD ON!....D-O-W Dow, N-O-W now!")and in Los Angeles he did spots for Cal Stereo ("Cal Stereo for sure!"). The LA locations were "Bellflower, Canoga Park, Garden Grove, West Covina, West LA, North Hollywood and Pasadena...and now the City of Carson!". See if you can say those as fast as you can with clarity!
My personal favorite of the novelty type commercials was Fred Rated for The Federated, done by a radio guy named Shadoe Stevens.

Smilodon said...

The Firesign Theatre riffed on those commercials especially on their album How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You're Not Anywhere At All.

Mitch said...

Stanley Stanley Stanley Chevrolet
Two blocks off the Santa Ana Freeway
1-1-9-8-0 East Firestone
Stanley Chevrolet

This commercial was heard on nearly every radio station in L.A. in the late 1950s and early '60s. I believe Molly Bee wrote it and sang it.

Storm said...

@John Nixon: As fans of the movie "Repo Man" like to say, "Whoa-- plate of shrimp!"

The Bay Area ad was a jingle, not a voiceover, and oh yes, I am familiar with the... dulcet tones of Tom Campbell. While I'm from the Bay Area, I've lived in San Diego for 35 years. He did the same talking-way-too-fast type of ads in both areas. His voice caused me actual physical agony, jangling the hell outta my nerves, nothing could make me turn either the TV or radio knob faster than THAT VOICE. When I was reading these comments last night, I remembered him, wondered whatever happened to him (he was still doing ads for Pearson Ford like 15 years ago), and Googled. I had NO idea until then that he had ever been a DJ, and I cannot let myself imagine what his radio patter was like. YEESH.

(There's lots of radio folk that read this blog, and for all I know, one of them could be Mr. Campbell, or a friend of his. No disrespect is intended towards him *personally*, as I'm sure he was an otherwise nice person.)

And here's a tasty sauce for said shrimp; I was also thinking about the Fred Rated ads last night! My Pug dog is named Fred, and sometimes when I hear him grunting around unsupervised in another room, I yell "Hey! Fred Rated from Federated! You ain't slick, get back out here!"

Cheers, thanks a lot,


moore said...
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