Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hollywood Sign

So, even though my sister, Tonya is all the way in New Caledonia right now with her family, she still somehow manages to send me an idea for a topic to blog about! Wow! Gotta love that!

The Hollywood sign will forever hold a special place in my heart and I can’t help but feel a little excited every time I see it. Fortunately, I do not have to go too far to get a good view of it. It is certainly a top priority of things to see for visitors. I don’t know what it is exactly but that one sign holds so much promise and possibility for the future. I also find the general history of the sign very interesting.

The Hollywood Sign is truly one of the most famous landmarks and certainly is the renown in the Hollywood Hills area. It was created as an advertisement in 1923 to promote a new housing development in the hills. The sign was officially dedicated on July 13th, 1923. Originally, each letter of the sign was 30 feet wide and 50 feet high and was studded with about 4000 light bulbs. The sign also first read HOLLYWOODLAND. Sadly, not long after the dedication, in September 1932, Broadway actress Peg Entwisle committed suicide by jumping to her death from the letter H. How awful, right?!

After the rise of American cinema in LA, the sign became an internationally recognized symbol, and was left up. The sign became a frequent target of pranks and vandalism and underwent a lot of restoration, including a security system to deter vandalism. The sign is protected and promoted by the Hollywood Sign Trust, a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to physically maintain, repair and secure the sign, to educate the world about its historical and cultural importance, and to raise the funds necessary to accomplish these projects.

The sign makes frequent appearances in popular culture, particularly in establishing shots for films and television programs set in or around Hollywood. During the early 1940s, Albert Kothe (the sign's official caretaker) caused an accident that destroyed the letter H, as seen in many historical pictures. While Kothe was driving drunk, he lost control of his car and drove off the cliff behind the H, destroying it completely. In 1949 the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce began a contract with the City of Los Angeles Parks Department to repair and rebuild the sign. The contract stipulated that "LAND" be removed to spell "Hollywood" and reflect the district, not the "Hollywoodland" housing development. The Parks Department dictated that all subsequent illumination would be at the cost of the Chamber, so the Chamber opted not to replace the light bulbs. The 1949 effort gave it new life, but the sign's unprotected wood and sheet metal structure continued to deteriorate. Eventually the first O splintered and broke, resembling a lowercase u, and the third O fell down completely, leaving the severely dilapidated sign reading "HuLLYWO D".

In 1978, in large part because of the public campaign to restore the landmark by rocker Alice Cooper (who donated the missing O), the Chamber set out to replace the intensely deteriorated sign with a more permanent structure. Nine donors gave US$27,777 each (totaling US$250,000) to sponsor replacement letters made of steel, guaranteed to last for many years. The new letters were 45 feet (14 m) tall and ranged from 31 to 39 feet (9.4 to 12 m) wide. The new version of the sign was unveiled on Hollywood's 75th anniversary, 14 November 1978, before a live television audience of 60 million people. Refurbishment, donated by Bay Cal Commercial Painting, began again in November 2005, as workers stripped the letters back to their metal base and repainted them white. Also in 2005, the original 1923 sign was put up for sale on eBay by producer/entrepreneur Dan Bliss.

This brings us up to date to just this week’s new developments. Thanks to Hugh Hefner and many other donors who have contributed to keep the property that houses the iconic Hollywood sign out of developers' hands. Hefner donated $900,000 and brought the final tally to $12.5 million, enough to protect the 138 acres of land. "My childhood dreams and fantasies came from the movies, and the images created in Hollywood had a major influence on my life and Playboy," Hef says. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger adds: "It's a symbol of dreams and opportunity. The Hollywood sign will welcome dreamers, artists and Austrian bodybuilders for generations to come. I did what the Terminator was supposed to do, and that was to jump into action." I am glad that the Hollywood Sign will be around for many many more generations to enjoy.


  1. You're welcome for the idea.

    Thanks for all the background story. I knew some it. Where did you find the info?

    The Hollywood sign will always and forever be a symbol of well, Hollywood to me. Everything that is glitz, glamour, red carpet events, movie sets and magazine covers.

    Thanks, Hef!!

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