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The Hollywood Photographs Blog

Hollywood Sign History #6



For years, the date of 1949 has been accepted and written as the date the letter “H”, of the Hollywoodland sign, was knocked to the ground. The most accepted story was that it was blown down in a windstorm in 1949.  Of course, the tale about Albert Kothe driving, while drunk, over the summit and knocking down the letter “H”, is totally apocryphal. While viewing microfilm at the Los Angeles Public Library, I found a April 12, 1947 Los Angeles Evening Herald article which showed a photo of the letter “H” lying on the ground. The caption read, “ --- where the H used to be before a wind blew it down five years ago.”  I then located a Los Angeles Times article, dated March 27, 1944 in which actor, Pat O’Brien stated, “ --- that a recent windstorm made...

Hollywoodland & Hollywood sign photos

Hollywoodland sign

The Hollywoodland sign's construction was started in about late October 1923 and finished during the first week of December, 1923. It was first illuminaated on December 8, 1923.

Hollywood Sign dedication

Sometime in December 1923, Harry Chandler and others dedicated the newly constucted Hollywoodland sign.

Hollywood land sign at night

1924: Tthe Hollywoodland sign at night.  The sign was illuminated with 3,700 ten-watt bulbs.

Peg Entwistle Photo...

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...

Griffith Observatory Photos & History

Griffith Observatory Photos and History

Colonel Griffith Griffiths

The Griffith Observatory and Hall of science provided for by Col. Griffith Griffith four years before his death, presented some problems. As in the case of the Greek Theatre, Col. Griffith selected and stipulated the exact site for each. The location selected for the observatory and Hall of science was at the very top of Mount Hollywood. Even the means of access was decided; it was to be a particular railroad from the head of Vermont Canyon to the mountaintop. This, in turn, was to be reached by the extension of the street railway at a 5 cent fare. All of these details were intended to be in the interest of the public.

Photo of Griffith Observatory...

Chinese Theater Hand & Footprint Ceremonies

Chinese Theater Hand & Footprint Ceremonies

Chinese Theater Construction

On Armistice Day, November 11, 1925, the first rivot in the steel girders was driven by the beautify actress Anna May Wong.   The ground breaking ceremony was attended by Sid Grauman, Charlie Chaplin, Anna May Wong, Conrad Nagel and Norma Talmadge.  

Photo of Chinese Theater

Chinese Theater’s Grand Opening

The Chinese Theater had its grand opening on May 18, 1927, with the premiere of Cecil B. DeMilles’s epic film, “King of Kings.”  Hundreds of celebrities attended the grand opening, including actor, Ernest...

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 Photos Website #5 Website  Part 5

Hollywood Airfield Photos

In 1918,  Cecil B DeMille, founded the Mercury aviation company and built his first airfield, DeMille  field number one, across from the present location of Fairfax high school. Soon to know built a second airfield, DeMille Field #2, and moved his enterprise to the north west corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Crescent Avenue, now Fairfax Avenue.

Mercury aviation operating a fleet of surplus WWI “Jennys” and offered popular sightseeing trips around the area. The airfield feature a gas station at the intersection that fueled automobiles on one side and airplanes on the other side. In May 1921, Mercury launched regular scheduled flights carrying passengers to Santa Catalina Island, San Diego and other locales -  becoming the first scheduled airline with multiple destinations in...

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...