Thursday, May 1, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - Thirteen Facts About the Hollywood Sign

It has had almost as many makeovers as some of the stars in Hollywood. It has helped to promote a town, an industry and a culture. It lures people in with their dreams of being a star. It’s the Hollywood sign that stands high on Mt. Lee in Hollywood, California.

Originally, the sign was created as an advertising campaign to entice home buyers to buy the homes that were built under the sign.

In 1923 the Hollywood sign was erected and read H-O-L-L-Y-W-O-O-D-L-A-N-D.

The letters are 30 feet wide and 50 feet tall and the sign was only to last a year and a half, and has endured for more than 8 decades. The first sign featured 4,000 20-watt bulbs, spaced 8 inches apart. At night the Sign blinked, first, “Holly” then “wood” and finally “land” (the sign no longer flashes today)

The “Hollywood Sign Girl” - In 1932 dreams turned into despair for young Hollywood actress, Peg Entwistle, and she climbed to the top of the letter H and plunged to her death. In a cruel twist of irony, a letter to Peg arrive the day after her death and she was offered the lead role in a play. . . about a woman driven to suicide.

In 1944 the sign became property of the city, but salvation for a facelift would have to wait until after World War II.

In 1949 the letter H in need of repair fell down the hill, leaving only OLLYWOODLAND for all to see. Later that year in 1949 when the H was repaired, the word LAND was removed from the sign.

The sign sits on Mt. Lee and can be seen close up from the grounds of the Griffith Park Observatory.

During the 70’s the town of Hollywood continued to decline as well as the sign, the top of the “D” and the entire third “O” toppled down Mt. Lee and an arsonist set fire to the second “L”.

Pranksters altered the sign’s letters to read “HOLLYWEED in 1973 (advocating loser marijuana laws). Commemorating a visit from Pope John Paul II in 1987 the sign was changed to HOLYWOOD

Before security cameras and electric charged fences surrounded the perimeter of the sign it was the ultimate make-out place to take your date.

In August 1978 the sign was removed for three months to make way for the new re-born sign which had been poised and polished for a new millennium.

Televised coverage on the New Year’s Eve the Sign took its place among the world’s most revered landmarks and was shown on global TV coverage alongside the Eiffel Tower, Times Square and the Great Pyramids of Egypt.

Griffith Park and the mountain where the sign stands suffered two damaging wildfires in 2007 and the hill where the sign stood was left black and not a single living plant grew where the land had burned.

In 2008, the mountaintop property located near the HOLLYWOOD sign, once owned by Howard Hughes was put up for sale. The property offers a stunning 360–degree panorama of the Los Angeles Basin and the San Fernando Valley and has five legal lots allowing for construction of homes. The Hollywood Sign which has stood on Mt. Lee for 84 years has been a symbol of a culture and has been an icon longer than most people in Hollywood have been alive. It survived through the stock market crash and World War II, the Depression Years, Blacklisting in the 50’s, vandalism, natural disasters and made its own Hollywood comeback after numerous makeovers. In the end, the HOLLYWOOD sign may now be obscured from view if the potential house/mansions are allowed to be built on the land above the sign.

For more fascinating facts, pictures and to help save the HOLLYWOOD sign click here


Dorothy Thompson said...

Wow, neat post, Becky! Man, I'd love to see that sign again.