Arnold Palmer, pitchman: The King's best commericals
Golf Culture

Arnold Palmer, pitchman: The King’s best commercials

Cal Worthington was an incredible pitchman for cars. He died on Monday at the age of 92.

Just eight years younger than the wild salesman, Arnold Palmer celebrates his 84th birthday on Tuesday. Palmer's influence on the sport is so profound that it's truly hard to measure.

Palmer not only won 60 times on the PGA Tour, including seven major titles, but he brought the game to the masses -- the perfect mix of flamboyance, style, confidence and talent to lure in armies of fans to professional golf in the dawn of sports on TV.

It turns out that Palmer's charisma naturally translated to TV. And print. And the radio. Palmer would have been an incredible media personality, transcendent in a way so many wish they could be. Despite a hectic schedule, however, Palmer was a rather ubiquitous presence in advertising over the course of his career.

Here's a look at some the great spots in which Palmer has starred over the years.

Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods are ninjas

Arnold Palmer starred in a great ad with Tiger Woods this year to promote Woods' EA Sports video game. The duo creamed a menacing gang that was looking to harm the game's legends. And they got a little help in the form of a Lee Trevino cameo.

While We're Young

Slow golf was not Arnie's thing. So the King makes a special stop at a golf course when a slow player asks for an Arnold Palmer from the cart girl. The guy gets more than he bargains for: a stern warning from the typically friendly Palmer.

Arnold Palmer Fighting With O.J. Simpson

In retrospect, getting into a verbal altercation with O.J. Simpson is a bad premise, but this Hertz ad starring the two was a good one. Palmer pitches cheaper prices from the car-rental magnate.

Arnold Palmer Driving A Caddy

Arnold Palmer may not know much about tennis, he says sweating after a tough set, but he sure knows how to drive in luxury. So he drives a Cadillac. Or at least he did in 1974. The best part of this ad? It was clearly shot at Latrobe Country Club. And the El Dorado is holding up golfers at the club.

Wait, Arnold Palmer Driving A Mercury Cougar

Six years prior to that Cadillac spot, Arnold Palmer was driving a Mercury Cougar. Right up to the tee box. You know what? Arnold Palmer can do whatever the hell he wants.

Arnold Palmer & Pennzoil

Check out this 1984 spot for Pennzoil. The guy's mug is plastered all over the place. The best part is that Arnie plays it cool until the end, hardly recognizing that his picture was everywhere.

And don't think that Palmer's done raking in the bucks, either. For example, every time you stop in a supermarket or convenience store and grab a can of Arizona's Arnold Palmer Half & Half, you're helping to line the King's already hefty bank account. In fact, he subtly promoted that brand in a "This is SportsCenter" ad that is one of the best ESPN has ever done.

Bottom line? Palmer is a savvy businessman, still wowing us. Last year, Golf Digest estimated Palmer made over $30 million, thanks in part to his endorsements and largely thanks to the brand he built in the prime of his career.

Unlike Cal Worthington, Palmer didn't need a special gimmick to seem larger than life. He was. And still is.

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