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The Hollywood Sign (formerly the "Hollywoodland" sign) is a landmark and American cultural icon located in Los Angeles, California. It is situated on Mount Lee in the Hollywood Hills area of the Santa Monica Mountains. The sign overlooks the Hollywood district of Los Angeles, the historical center of American cinema. "HOLLYWOOD" is spelled out in 45-foot-tall (14�m) and 350-foot-long (110�m) white letters. It was originally created as an advertisement in 1923, but garnered increasing recognition after the sign was left up. The sign was a frequent target of pranks and vandalism but has since undergone restoration, including a security system to deter vandalism. The sign is protected and promoted by the Hollywood Sign Trust, a nonprofit organization.
From the ground, the contours of the hills give the sign its "wavy" appearance, as reflected in the Hollywood Video logo, for example. When observed at a comparable altitude, as in the photo shown on the right, the letters appear nearly level.
The sign makes frequent appearances in popular culture, particularly in establishing shots for films and television programs set in or around Hollywood, furnished the title for the film The Hollywood Sign, and appears in the background of the current CGI fanfare logo of 20th Century Fox. Signs of similar style, but spelling different words, are frequently seen as parodies.
The sign was first erected in 1923 and originally read "HOLLYWOODLAND". Its purpose was to advertise the name of a new housing development in the hills above the Hollywood district of Los Angeles. H.J. Whitley had already used a sign to advertise his development Whitley Heights, which was located between Highland Avenue and Vine Avenue. He suggested to his friend Harry Chandler, the owner of the Los Angeles Times newspaper, that the land syndicate in which he was involved make a similar sign to advertise their land. Real estate developers Woodruff and Shoults called their development "Hollywoodland" and advertised it as a "superb environment without excessive cost on the Hollywood side of the hills".
They contracted the Crescent Sign Company to erect thirteen letters on the hillside, each facing south. The sign company owner, Thomas Fisk Goff (1890�1984) designed the sign. Each letter of the sign was 30 feet (9.1�m) wide and 45 feet (14�m) high, and the whole sign was studded with some 4,000 light bulbs. The sign would flash in segments; "HOLLY," "WOOD," and "LAND" would light up individually, before lighting up entirely. Below the Hollywoodland sign was a searchlight to attract more attention. The poles that supported the sign were hauled to the site by mules. Cost of the project was $21,000 (about $250,000 in 2011 dollars.)
The sign was officially dedicated on July 13, 1923. It was not intended to be permanent. Restoration company Bay Cal Painting says on its website that the expected life was to be about a year and a half, but after the rise of the American cinema in Los Angeles during the Golden Age of Hollywood, the sign became an internationally recognized symbol, and was left there. Some Hollywood history enthusiasts hope to someday see the sign reverted to its original state.
On September 18, 1932, the body of Broadway actress Peg Entwistle was found in a ravine below the sign. She had been living at her uncle's house in Beachwood Canyon. A suicide note was found in a purse anonymously dropped off at the Hollywood police station. Police surmised Entwistle jumped to her death from the letter H.
October 22nd, 2012
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