Never has a monument spun so many parodies, they are ENDLESS!! Spanning over a century, and claiming a suicidal chick...in September of 1932, Peg Entwistle, a resident of Beachwood Canyon, committed suicide by jumping to her death from the letter H. You can read all about that on my buddy Scott's site, by click-a-claqing here!
It is a time-honored symbol of Hollywood. The FIRST thing, SO MANY, look for when coming to Hollywood whether to visit, or to conquer their dreams!! It has come to define Hollywood in many ways. It is the most used establishing shot in film... But just how did the 450 feet long, 45 feet tall, sign get there and what exactly is the deal of it anyway?? Ever hear of a town in Florida, called Hollywood?? Well...vuala!! Hollywood Cali, was actually named after the city of Hollywood, Florida! It was so named in 1887 by Mrs. Daeida Wilcox, the wife of the town's founder, Harvey Wilcox. Mrs. Wilcox, while on a train, met a lady who was talking to her about her summer home in Florida in a seaside town called Hollywood. Mrs. Wilcox fell in love with the name...thus Hollywood, California, was born.
In the late 1800's, the only talent in Hollywood - was that of the real world farmer. Sunset Blvd. looked very different back then! By the early 1900's, Hollywood was becoming a mecca for early filmmakers - who were moving faaar west, to escape Edison's patent on Motion Picture cameras. Hollywood was the perfect location not just because of the perfect weather, but it was as FAR WEST, as filmmakers could GET, from Edison's expensive patents. By 1910, studios were being built all over Los Angeles. Griffith Park, hadn't yet been conquered.. Lincoln Heights, was actually a desert..
With word spreading, Hollywood was growing fast!! The folks relocating weren't just folk with an interest in film, real estate developers swooped in as well. In 1923, a real estate company by the name of Hollywoodland Real Estate Group, come up with what has become, to say the least, the longest real estate advertising idea in history. The real estate group got in contact with a man by the name of Thomas Fisk Goff who owned a sign company to erect thirteen letters facing south atop Mt. Lee...in Hollywood. Goff designed, and commenced, with his crew, to building the sign. Each of the letters were 30 feet wide, and 50 feet in height. The sign was built with logs intended for telephone poles and barn roofing at a cost of $21,000.00. Holes were punched through the sign to help relieve stress caused by the winds. In only a few months, the sign was unveiled July 13, 1923...complete with 4,000 light bulbs which would twinkle and was visible up to 25 miles away at night. It spelled H O L L Y W O O D L A N D. The sign was to only last 18 months...(8 decades later..it still stands - minus the L A N D at the end. You have seen it time and time again, but what the hell, see it again here, taken by yours truly in 1996). The reality company hired locals that lived in cabins behind the sign to maintain it. The sign stayed strong, until 1929.
In 1929, the stock market crash delivered a huge blow to the Hollywoodland Real Estate Group. They were left unable to maintain the sign and had to abandon it.
It would stay unmanned until the 1940's when The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce would form a committee to maintain it. They began a contract with the City of Los Angeles Parks Department to repair and rebuild the sign. The contract stipulated that "L A N D" be removed to spell just "Hollywood." The deal was signed and done. Before it could be put into effect, the first O splintered and broke off, resembling a lowercase u, and the third O fell down completely, leaving the severely dilapidated sign reading "HuLLYWO D". On top of this, and in the nights following, the lone caretaker of the sign at the time, Albert Kothe, was driving to the sign one night rather 'inebriated', and crashed his truck into the 'H'. It destroyed his truck and finished the 'H', however, he...and his whiskey, emerged unharmed! Afterward - a news reporter used it as a photo-op! Atta gal!
The L A N D was removed, the sign patched up, and it would stand in glory until the 1970's. The sign had become visibly weathered, namely the 'D'. The Hollywood Kiwanis Club raised the funds to repair but soon after the third "O" took a tumble down the hill, followed by an arsonist setting fire to the 'L'. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce commissioned a crew to access the damage at the prospect of replacing the whole sign. The result was a price tag of a quarter of a million dollars. Knowing they could not swing such a hefty amount, the Chamber was about to call it quits, and the media..heeey!!
Stars stepped in from all corners of Hollywood. Hugh Hefner put the bunnies on hold & held a gala at the Playboy Mansion. Nine donors gave $27,777 for each letter to be restored.
H - Terrence Donnelly, publisher of the Hollywood Independent Newspaper
O - Giovanni Mazza, Italian movie producer
L - Les Kelley, originator of the Kelley Blue Book
L - Gene Autry
Y - Hugh Hefner
W - Andy Williams
O - Warner Bros. Records
O - Alice Cooper, in memory of Groucho Marx
D - Dennis Lidtke
Pat Sajak was going to buy a letter but backed out, apparently pissed he couldn't buy a vowel. (That's a shitty joke, but I couldn't resist!)
So the sign would never reach the state of disrepair it had seen, the California Attorney General assigned rights and responsibilities to three government agencies in 1992 for the sign. The City of Los Angeles owns the land where the sign stands. The City of Hollywood owns the licensing rights for the image of the sign. And the Hollywood Sign Trust was assigned to maintain, repair, and to perform any capital improvements to the sign, for the benefit of the public.
In 2000, the Hollywood Sign Trust hired Panasonic to install a state-of-the-art security system, with a large closed circuit, Internet-based surveillance network, which can be monitored 24/7 over the Internet, to protect the sign from vandals and fire. The security system was upgraded again in 2005. Since the security system is Internet-based, anyone on the Internet can watch over the sign 24 hours a day on its live web cam, located at: www.hollywoodsign.org/247.html
It is illegal to hike to the sign ... but my buddy Scott (findadeath.com), had an interesting experience. ;)
The sign stands as a true monument and, for many locals from Hollywood, as a true testiment to the strength and endurance that is Hollywood.
**ST JAMES OF HUBPAGES ADDS THESE TIDBITS...
The original Hollywood sign was placed in a storage facility after it was taken down. No one was aware that the company hired to remove the sign had understood its historical significance and elected to store it rather than dispose of it as was planned. The sign remained in storage until it was purchased by noted collector of rare and unusual memorabilia, and famous artist, Bill Mack in 2007. Bill intends to use the metal facing from the sign as a canvas,and he plans to paint the likenesses of the "great "movie stars from the Golden Years Of Hollywood."
It is this metal that many young actors and actresses climbed Mount Lee to touch it and have pictures taken with it for luck. It's the same metal that one actress stood upon and jumped off of... ending her life and forever changing the meaning of the sign from "all that glitters to the city of broken dreams."
•The new Hollywood Sign was unveiled live on November 14, 1978, on Hollywood's 75th anniversary, before a television audience
of 60 million.
It is illegal to make alterations to the Hollywood sign. Even though the City has allowed it to happen in the past, on occasion, for 'commercial purposes'.. Money talks, bushit walks!! Yah know!! Current city policies do not permit changes to be made, due to the incidents that have happened in the past.
But here are some of the more famous modifications:
•HOLYWOOD - September 1987, for Pope John Paul II's arrival
•OLLYWOOD - July 1987, during Iran-Contra hearings
•CALTECH - May 1987, on Hollywood's 100th birthday
•FOX - April 1987, promotion for the TV network
•HOLLYWOOD II - April 1986, to mark revitalization of area
•RAFFEYSOD - January 1985, meaning never determined
•HOLLYWEED - December 1983, for a movie filming
•GO NAVY - November 1983, before a game at the Rose Bowl
•HOLLYWEED - January 1976, noting new state marijuana law ; 2017 unknown.. Perhaps for fun