Saturday, September 27, 2008

A California Icon

Have you seen the Hollywood sign atop Mt. Lee in Griffith Park? Ever thought of the history surrounding it?

The sign was constructed in 1923 as "Hollywoodland" and was secured by simple barbed wire. In 1932, an aspiring actress, Peg Entwhistle, made headlines when she jumped to her death from the "H".

In 1939, a man was hired to maintain the sign and lived in a shack under the sign. His main duty was to replace any one of the 4,000 light bulbs when they burned out.

In 1978, the sign was comletely reconfigured and rebuilt with the low bid ($278,000) going to Pacific Outdoor Advertising. Funds were underwritten by individuals such as Hugh Heffner, Andy Williams and Alice Cooper to name a few and were collected by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Telephone poles were put in place by helicopter and tin was used in the construction. The names of the indivduals who worked on the sign are welded into the side of the "H".

The sign has been changed by pranksters over the years. Pranksters came from another state in 1985 to promote a rock and roll band and changed the name to "Raffeysod". In 1987, Caltech students changed the sign to "H Caltech D". The "H" and "D" were covered with black plastic and "Caltech" was covered in white plastic. In 1976, someone changed the sign to "Hollyweed".

Needless to say, greater security measures have been taken to discourage vandalisim. Surveillance cameras are in place and helicopters survey the area several times a day.

Next time you drive by the Hollywood sign, I believe you will appreciate it more now that you know a little of its history.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow! Thanks, Marnie. I didn't know any of that stuff. It's neat to know more about things we see so often.