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Hollywood Sign Photographs

The Hollywood sign is one of the most iconic symbols of Hollywood. It’s history span more than ninety years and has undergone many changes.  Most people don’t know that the sign originally read HOLLYWOODLAND and was intended to be an advertising sign for the real estate development, with the same name.  The owners of the Hollywoodland real estate tract, decided they needed a gimmick that would attract potential buyers to their development.  In 1923, construction began on the sign and within a few months, it was completed.

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The sign was constructed with fifty-foot telephone poles, large wooden beams, cables and faced with large pieces of perforated sheet metal.  The materials were taken up the hill by tractor, while the workmen were forced to climbed up the steep slope. 

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The hollywoodphotographs.com website has photos the sign’s construction, including one that shows a man standing the letter “D”. and workmen carrying the light boxes up to be installed on the sign. 

Hollywoodland Sign Dedication & Suicide

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When the sign was completed, in mid 1923, a dedication ceremony was held.  Several Hollywood dignitaries and Hollywoodland executives met at the base of the hill and walked up to the base of the sign, behind a horse and plow.   Seven years after the sign was completed, Millicent, Peg, Entwhistle, who was despondent over her acting career, climbed to the top of the letter H and jumped to her death. 

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Hollywoodland Sign Lighted

Another fact that most people don’t know is that the sign was lighted, with 4,000 incandescent light bulbs.  The person who was responsible for replacing the burned out bulbs was Albert Kothe.  It is said that he lived just below the sign and would climb a ladder to replace the bulbs.

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HollywoodLand to Hollywood

In 1949, a serious wind and rain storm caused considerable damage tot eh sign.  By this time, the sign was twenty -five years old and had been damaged by the weather.  The letter “H” had blown down. So, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce convinced the County of Los Angeles to refurbish the sign.  The last four letters were removed and the rest of the sign rebuilt. From that point on, the sign has read HOLLYWOOD.

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During the next several years, the sign was temporarily altered to read such words as “Hollyweed”, “Holywood”, and “hollywierd”. Danny Findgood was a student at Cal State Northridge and with a group of students, he altered the sign several times.

Over the course of the next twenty years the sign continued to be ravaged by the weather.  In 1972, the sign was refurbished due to a “Save the Sign” campaign sponsored by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. 

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Six years later, the Chamber, again, undertook a massive campaign to have the damaged sign torn down and a new sign erected in the same location as the old sign. With the assistance of Hugh Hefner and Alice Cooper, many thousands of dollars was raised to build a new sign.  Construction of the new sign took about six months.

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New Hollywood Sign

In November 1978, the new Hollywood Sign was unveiled to the public with a display of klieg and lazer type lights.  One of the most iconic photographs of the new sign was taken by Bruce Torrence.  Rather than attend the sign dedication party, Bruce chose to position himself on a hill across from the sign. When the  lights came on, he snapped several photos, one of which has been used in many books, documentaries, magazine, etc.    

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The largest and most complete collection of Hollywood sign photos is on the hollywoodphotographs.com website.   There are more than three hundred historical photos of the Hollywoodland and Hollywood sign.

 

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