Hollywood Sign: Wikis


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Hollywood Sign

The Hollywood Sign as it appears today.
Structural system Wood and sheet metal (1923–1978)
Steel (1978–present)
Town Los Angeles, California
Country United States
Client Woodruff and Shoults (Hollywoodland)
Started 1923
Completed 1923
Size 50 feet (15 m) tall
about 200 feet (61 m) long[citation needed]
Design team
Architect Thomas Fisk Goff

The Hollywood Sign is a famous landmark in the Hollywood Hills area of Mount Lee in Los Angeles, California, spelling out the name of the area in 45-foot (14 m)[1] tall white letters. It was created as an advertisement in 1923, but garnered increasing recognition after the sign was left up.[2] 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 whose purpose is to physically maintain, repair and secure the sign, to educate the world about its historical and cultural importance, and to raise the funds necessary to accomplish these projects.

From the ground, the contours of the hills give the sign its well-known "wavy" appearance. When observed at a comparable altitude, as in the photo to the right, the letters appear straight-across.

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,[3] 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 originally read "HOLLYWOODLAND", and its purpose was to advertise 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".[citation needed] (An unrelated film named Hollywoodland was made in 2006.[4])

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 50 feet (15 m) high, and was studded with some 4000 light bulbs. The sign was officially dedicated on 13 July 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 it became an internationally recognized symbol, and was left there.

In September 1932, Broadway actress Peg Entwistle, a resident of Beachwood Canyon, committed suicide by jumping to her death from the letter H.[5]


The Hollywood Sign is one of the best-known signs in the world. During the early 1940s, Albert Kothe (the sign's official caretaker) caused an accident that destroyed the letter H,[6] as seen in many historical pictures. Kothe, driving while inebriated, was nearing the top of Mount Lee when he lost control of his vehicle and drove off the cliff behind the H. While Kothe was not injured, the 1928 Ford Model A was destroyed, as was the letter.

In 1949 the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce began a contract with the City of Los Angeles Parks Department to repair and rebuild the sign. The contract stipulated that "LAND" be removed to spell "Hollywood" and reflect the district, not the "Hollywoodland" housing development.[7] The Parks Department dictated that all subsequent illumination would be at the cost of the Chamber, so the Chamber opted not to replace the light bulbs. The 1949 effort gave it new life, but the sign's unprotected wood and sheet metal structure continued to deteriorate. Eventually the first O splintered and broke, resembling a lowercase u, and the third O fell down completely, leaving the severely dilapidated sign reading "HuLLYWO D".


The sign from the Hollywood Hills.

In 1978, in large part because of the public campaign to restore the landmark by shock rocker Alice Cooper (who donated the missing O), the Chamber set out to replace the intensely deteriorated sign with a more permanent structure. Nine donors gave US$27,777 each (totaling US$250,000) to sponsor replacement letters made of steel, guaranteed to last for many years (see Donors section below).[citation needed]

The new letters were 45 feet (14 m) tall and ranged from 31 to 39 feet (9.4 to 12 m) wide. The new version of the sign was unveiled on Hollywood's 75th anniversary, 14 November 1978, before a live television audience of 60 million people.[citation needed]

Refurbishment, donated by Bay Cal Commercial Painting,[8] began again in November 2005, as workers stripped the letters back to their metal base and repainted them white. Also in 2005, the original 1923 sign was put up for sale on eBay by producer/entrepreneur Dan Bliss.[9] Bliss sold the sign to artist Bill Mack.


The letters on the sign today are 5 ft (1.52 m) shorter than the original

Following the 1978 public campaign to restore the sign, the following nine donors gave $27,777 each (which totaled $249,993):


View from West Hollywood, near Santa Monica Boulevard a few blocks south of Hollywood Boulevard The historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel is visible on the left

The sign is located on the southern side of Mount Lee in Griffith Park, north of the Mulholland Highway.

The sign is located on rough, steep terrain, and is encompassed by barriers to prevent unauthorized access. In 2000, the Los Angeles Police Department installed a security system featuring motion detection and closed-circuit cameras. Any movement in the marked restricted areas triggers an alarm that notifies the police.[10]

Surrounding land

Land in the vicinity of the sign remains privately owned. Much of it was owned by the estate of Howard Hughes, who had once planned a hilltop mansion at Cahuenga Peak; part of that tract was sold in 2002, and the new owners are interested in exploiting a route for a road to access the property granted in 1945 by the Los Angeles City Department of Water and Power. These owners are also interested in building four luxury mansions along the ridgeline.[11] As a result, the City of Los Angeles is considering buying the property, possibly by raising money from celebrities as was done for the 1978 restoration.[12]

Environmentalists and preservationists are also concerned about the possible real estate development next to the Hollywood Sign. On February 11, 2010, as part of a campaign to help raise money, the The Trust for Public Land, with the full blessing of both the city and the Hollywood Sign Trust, covered the sign with a large banner reading "SAVE THE PEAK".[13][11]


It is illegal to make unauthorized physical alterations to the sign. Although the city has occasionally allowed it in the past for commercial purposes, current policy does not permit changes to be made. This is largely due to neighborhood opposition and to past accidents. However, the sign has been unofficially altered a number of times, often eliciting a great deal of attention. Some of the more famous modifications have included:

  • HOLLYWeeD – January 1976, following the passage of a state law decriminalizing marijuana.[14]
  • HOLY WOOD - 1978 it was altered for Pope John Paul II when he visited.[15]
  • HOLYWOOD – April 1977, for Easter sunrise service, viewable from the Hollywood Bowl.[14]
  • FOX - April 1987, for the promotion of the network.
  • OLLYWOOD – July 1987, during the Iran-Contra hearings.[14]
  • As part of a promotion for the 1992 film Cool World, a 75-foot-tall cutout of Holli Would was installed, appearing to sit on the sign. The alteration angered local residents,[16][17] who picketed the unveiling of the altered sign.[18]
  • OIL WAR – 1991, for the Gulf War.[14]
  • GO UCLA – 1993, for the annual UCLA-USC football game. Twenty members of UCLA's Theta Chi fraternity achieved the prank, and were subsequently charged with trespassing. This incident prompted the 1994 installation of a $100,000 security system featuring video surveillance and motion detection.
  • CALTECH – 2003, on Hollywood's centennial (of its incorporation as a municipality), also one of Caltech's many senior pranks [19]
  • SAVE THE PEAK - February 11, 2010, the original letters were covered with a large banner reading "SAVE THE PEAK", part of a campaign by The Trust for Public Land to protect the land around the Hollywood Sign from real estate development (see above).[13]



Mosgiel, New Zealand.
Braşov, Romania.
Râşnov, Romania.
Think Blue sign in the mountains north of Dodger Stadium.
South San Francisco The Industrial City

Other areas

Mutanj,[22] a village in Serbia (population: 104).

Other cities have imitated the sign in some way.

  • A "Hollinwood" sign was erected in Hollinwood, which is near Manchester, England. The sign was erected during the night and then taken down by the Highway agency, as the sign was considered a distraction.[24]
  • In March 2010, it was announced that the Wellington Airport in New Zealand would erect a WELLYWOOD sign on the hillside of the Mirimar Peninsula. This was to reflect the film-making community in Wellington, notably Weta Digital which produced effects for Lord of the Rings, King Kong and Avatar. Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast felt confident in proceeding with the production of the sign, having been given the blessing of Weta's Sir Peter Jackson and Richard Taylor (filmmaker) despite the proposed sign's widespread unpopularity with local residents. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce immediately asserted trademark rights over the name or variations, and the matter is currently in the hands of lawyers.

Use in films

In several movies the Hollywood Sign can be seen being damaged or destroyed from the events of a particular scene. It is an example of national landmarks being destroyed, a common feature seen in many movies to increase drama. Examples include The Day After Tomorrow film, where a tornado is seen destroying the sign, and in the beginning of 10.5: Apocalypse, the sign is seen collapsing in the 10.5 earthquake.[25] A third example is in Earthquake, where a landslide causes the sign to topple down one-by-one during a megathrust earthquake.

In Austin Powers: Goldmember, Dr. Evil's lair is behind the Hollywood Sign.

In The Rocketeer, the villain crashes the rocket pack into the "LAND" part of the sign, changing it to "HOLLYWOOD".

In the episode The Capitol Threat of Life After People: The Series, the sign is seen being damaged by forest fire and later collapsing due to lack of maintenance.

Although the HOLLYWOOD Sign itself isn't shown, it is represented in the Commencement episode of Beverly Hills 90210 after the gang graduates, they cover the HOLLYWOOD Sign to say W BEV HI 93, as a lasting legacy of their time.

In beyond the valley of the dolls there is a quick showing of a dirty hollywood sign during a hollywood montage.

In "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief", the entrance to the underworld is behind the Hollywood sign.

In "Demolition Man", an aerial shot during the opening sequence shows the Hollywood Sign in flames.

See also


  1. ^ Renée Montagne (2002-10-28). "The Hollywood Sign". Present at the Creation. National Public Radio Crime Library. http://www.npr.org/programs/morning/features/patc/hollywoodsign/index.html. Retrieved 2006-09-20. 
  2. ^ Hollywood Sign Trust (2005-05-19). "The Hollywood Sign" (PDF). A Beat-by-Beat Plotline. Hollywood Sign Trust. http://www.hollywoodsign.org/pdf/HOLLYWOOD%20PLOTLINE.pdf. Retrieved 2007-08-12. 
  3. ^ [[cite web|url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0239467/|title=The Hollywood Sign (2001)|publisher=Internet Movie Database}}
  4. ^ http://www.hollywoodland.com Official film site
  5. ^ "Suicide Laid To Film Jinx". Los Angeles Times. 1932-09-20. pp. A1. 
  6. ^ Summer 2006 edition of The Beachwood Voice
  7. ^ "The Hollywood Sign, Present at the Creation". NPR. 28 October 2002. http://www.npr.org/programs/morning/features/patc/hollywoodsign/index.html. 
  8. ^ "Hollywood Sign Restoration Project 2005". Bay Cal Painting. http://www.baycal.com/hsrp/index.html. Retrieved 2008-01-01. 
  9. ^ Jessica Seid (2005-11-17). "Buy a piece of HOLLYWOOD". CNN. http://money.cnn.com/2005/11/17/news/newsmakers/hollywood_sign. 
  10. ^ "Hollywood Sign". Hollywood Sign Trust. 2009-08-02. http://www.hollywoodsign.org/signsecurity.html. Retrieved 2009-08-02. 
  11. ^ a b "Preservation campaigners cover Hollywood sign". KABC-TV. February 11, 2010. http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/local/los_angeles&id=7272149. Retrieved March 2, 2010. 
  12. ^ Associated Press (17 April 2008). "Chicago investors' sale puts famous Hollywood sign in jeopardy, residents say". Chicago Sun-Times. http://www.suntimes.com/news/nation/900498,hollywood041708.article. Retrieved 2008-04-17. 
  13. ^ a b "Behind the Sign: The Great Cover-Up". Save Cahuenga Peak. February 2010. http://www.savehollywoodland.org/homepage/pictures-of-the-hollywood-sign-during-the-wrapping/. 
  14. ^ a b c d Nelson, Valerie J. (January 28, 2009). "Danny Finegood, who found fame with "Hollyweed" stunt, dies at age 52". The Seattle Times. http://www.npr.org/programs/morning/features/patc/hollywoodsign/index.html. Retrieved 2009-09-18. 
  15. ^ http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2004/jun/11/
  16. ^ Schoch, Deborah (July 6, 1992). "Hollywood Residents Can't Shroud Anger Promotion: Paramount Pictures defends attaching a movie cartoon character to the famous sign. Citizens fear a tourist invasion and say that the landmark is being commercialized.". Los Angeles Times. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/latimes/access/61039169.html?dids=61039169:61039169&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&date=Jul+06,+1992&author=DEBORAH+SCHOCH&pub=Los+Angeles+Times+(pre-1997+Fulltext)&desc=Hollywood+Residents+Can't+Shroud+Anger+Promotion:+Paramount+Pictures+def. Retrieved 2008-09-22. 
  17. ^ Associated Press (July 7, 1992). "Cartoon Character Opens Landmark Rift". San Jose Mercury News. http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=SJ&s_site=mercurynews&p_multi=SJ&p_theme=realcities&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=0EB719DF2E0AA62A&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&s_trackval=GoogleP. Retrieved 2008-09-22. 
  18. ^ Chazanov, Mathis (July 7, 1992). "'D' as in Disagreement Cartoon Character Atop Landmark Sign Sets Off Protests". Los Angeles Times. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/latimes/access/61039484.html?dids=61039484:61039484&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&date=Jul+07,+1992&author=MATHIS+CHAZANOV&pub=Los+Angeles+Times+(pre-1997+Fulltext)&desc=`D'+as+in+Disagreement+Cartoon+Character+Atop+Landmark+Sign+Sets+Off+Pr. Retrieved 2008-09-22. 
  19. ^ Laura Fitzpatrick (November 2008). "Nerd Humor Meets California Landmark". Time Inc.. http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1839579_1839578_1839531,00.html. Retrieved 2008-11-24. 
  20. ^ Map of Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico
  21. ^ Ingvar Ericsson (22 September 2007). "Bygget av jätteskylten över Hammarstrand är i full gång" (in Swedish). Länstidningen. http://www.ltz.se/artikel_standard.php?id=445950&avdelning_1=101&avdelning_2=105. 
  22. ^ Glas Javnosti: Holivud na Rudniku
  23. ^ Tamara Race (May 23, 2008). "Iconic Hollywood Sign Comes East". The Patriot Ledger. http://www.patriotledger.com/news/x1880507947/Iconic-Hollywood-sign-comes-east. Retrieved 2008-11-16. 
  24. ^ Lashley, Brian (August 14, 2009). "Hollinwood sign mystery solved". Manchester Evening News (Manchester, England). http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/s/1131796_hollinwood_sign_mystery_solved. Retrieved September 9, 2009. 
  25. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0319262/synopsis

External links

Coordinates: 34°8′02.77″N 118°19′18.10″W / 34.1341028°N 118.321694°W / 34.1341028; -118.321694

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