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Hollywood Sign History

Hollywood Sign History #7


As mentioned above, the 1973 Hollywood Sign repair was simply a facelift. The missing or damaged pieces of sheet metal were replaced.  Then, the coats of green primer were applied, followed by white paint. For the next three and a half years, the only damage to the sign was to the several pieces of sheet metal that were damaged by wind.  The photos I took in November 1977 show the sign to be in intact.  Less than three months later, the sign sustained very serious damage. This occurred on February 10, 1978 when, according to the WeatherSpark website, the highest sustained wind speed was 33 mph. The highest wind gust speed was 44 miles. Typically, the average wind speed for February is 6 mph. From February 5, 1978 through February 11, 1978, Los Angeles was ravaged by lighting, rain and hailstorms.  A February 6, 1978 Los Angeles Times article stated that...

Hollywood Sign History #5


As mentioned above, the sign was a problem for the M.H. Sherman Co..  The cost to maintain it was expensive and it didn’t seem to help in stimulating potential buyers to purchase lots in the Hollywoodland subdivision.  On September 19, 1936, the second letter “O”, from the left, collapsed, due to wind.  The two telephone type poles remained standing because they had been repaired with iron “spuds” and cement in January 1935.  Two days after the letter “O” collapsed, a detailed inspection and report was written about the condition of the sign. This report accompanied a letter, dated September 22, 1936, from Hollywoodland manager, Gilbert A. Miller to J.H. Risheberger, with the M.H. Sherman Co.  The report indicated the sign’s...

Hollywood Sign History Part 4


One of the most sensational and tragic events, involving the Hollywoodland sign was the suicide of a young actress named Lillian Millicent “Peg” Entwistle, born Millicent Lilian Entwistle.  As Ted Okuda, author and film historian, correctly wrote in his endorsement of James Zeruk, Jr’s book, “Peg Entwistle And The Hollywood Sign Suicide”,  “For decades, the truth about Peg Entwistle was shrouded in mystery and distorted myth and misinformation. Through diligence and painstaking research, James Zeruk finally sets the record straight, unveiling the remarkable story of a talented, intelligent actress whose life was all too brief.”  As a Hollywood historian, I found this book to be extremely well researched and written.  What I’m about to write about Peg Entwistle, comes, almost exclusively, from his book. 

Peg was born in Wales in February 1908 to Robert...

Hollywood Sign History Part 3


Contrary to what has been written before, the white dot, located below the Hollywoodland sign was not installed as an “eye catcher.”  How that story got started is anyone’s guess.  But it’s absurd!  Why would an eye catcher be installed when there is a 543 foot long, 45 foot high white sign just above the dot?  The real story is a bit more complicated.

Photo of Hollywoodland sign

In 1920-21, the US Chamber of Commerce produced maps illustrating business conditions in areas of the country. Those shaded black were poor, white with black stripes (grey) were fair and white was good.  Los Angeles was a “white spot” in a sea of black and grey on...

Hollywood sign History Part 2


The website is the most accurate history of the Hollywoodland and Hollywood Signs

According to most newspaper articles and personal interviews, the sign was never intended to be a permanent structure.  However, before construction was approved, the Hollywoodland developers erected a “test” letter “H” about one hundred feet to the east of where the sign was eventually erected. Based on a photograph in my collection, the letter appears to be about thirty feet tall.  Apparently, the “test” met with a positive response because construction of a large sign was approved.

Photo of Hollywoodland sign

For whatever reason, the building of the Hollywoodland...

Hollywood Sign History Part 1


The following is an excerpt from Mary Mallory’s book, “Hollywoodland.”

“In the early days, the area of Beachwood Canyon was either empty land or used for farming, as seen in photographs, and did not exist on maps. The eastern half of what became Hollywoodland first appeared in records when the federal government issued a patent to the Southern Pacific Railroad on February 9, 1884.  On September 26, 1890, the Railroad sold the land to Julia E. Lord for an undetermined amount, and four days later she leased it to Quong Yuen Chung “for the right to cut wood.” Deeds for mining interest first appeared on December 12, 1893, but were terminated by court action 1896. On February 8, 1900, Lord bought the western half of the Hollywoodland site from the federal government. As noted in a Los Angeles Times article dated December 22, 1968, she...