The Whole Story of the Famous Hollywood Sign in LA
Updated On: February 26, 2023
This huge Hollywood sign has always been an iconic landmark of America. It sits high on mountains for the whole world to see, symbolising pride and honour. Hollywood is originally the name of the region that this sign overlooks. It’s located in California, but nowadays, it’s an icon of the movie industry in the United States.
The Hollywood sign has appeared in many movies and TV shows, which makes sense since it’s the symbol of fame. Yet, the reason this sign was first created was different from what it eventually became. There’s a whole story behind the Hollywood sign, and it’s one that you cannot expect.
The Beginning of the Hollywood Sign
When the Hollywood sign came into being, an utterly different vision was created for it. However, it turned out to become even more successful and famous than it was formerly anticipated. This sign came into being back in 1923, which was the year when all the letters were finally completed.
Harry Chandler, the publisher of the Los Angeles Times, was the creator of this magnificent billboard. He created it to market for a new real estate development known as Hollywoodland. Yes, the name was much longer before; it was just abbreviated to Hollywood, and the word “land” was discarded altogether.
The sign was possibly advertising the upscale city that it overlooks. However, it somehow became more than just a city in Los Angeles. The Hollywood neighbourhood became a huge industry that the world recognises as the birthplace of talented stars. Long before this sign was brought to life, the only stars in this region were the ones shining bright in the night sky, but we are glad it turned out into this iconic landmark in America.
Where Did the Name Come From?
Before the Hollywood sign became a prominent symbol of fame and stardom, there was a fascinating story from which the name was inspired. The story narrates that the term was coined by Daeida Wilcox, who owned a vast acre of fruit trees in the region with her husband, David Henderson Wilcox.
Legends have it that Daeida met a Canadian woman who told her about her hometown in Ohio, Hollywood, named after a Dutch settlement. Daeida liked the name and pitched the idea to her husband, believing their farmland should have this name. It also refers to the Land of the Holly Bush, from which people used toyons to decorate their Christmas trees.
4 Interesting Facts About the Famous Sign
You may already know how this world’s most known sign was brought to light. However, there are many stories surrounding the renowned Hollywood sign you may haven’t heard of. Thus, we’re here to entertain you with some exhilarating facts that you’ll enjoy learning about:
1. It’s the Pranksters’ Favourite Spot
For some reason, the sign became a hotspot for pranksters for years now that it somehow became a tradition. The first time a prank was made around here was in 1976 by an art student, Danny Finegood, who got an A, thanks to the sign. At the beginning of 1976, a state law was conducted decriminalising marijuana, and that was Finegood’s inspiration for his assignment.
He used draped bed sheets to cover the O’s with the help of his friends, turning the letters into E’s to become HollyWeed. The message went viral across many newspapers around the world, earning Finegood an exemplary grade. Finegood became involved with altering the sign according to the ongoing events. He also changed the sign to OIL WAR during the Gulf War in 1990.
Other famous pranks around the Hollywood sign were on 31 October for Halloween and April Fools’ Day. In October 1990, the stunt involved altering the sign to HOLLYWEEN. However, in April 1990, they camouflaged the sign as if it had vanished, which was another creative prank.
In these modern times, the prank tradition was a thing that was mentioned in one of Netflix‘s greatest animated hits, BoJack Horseman, in 2014. They removed the D from the sign and kept referring to the neighbourhood as Hollywoo from that time.
2. Luxury Homes Were to Surround It
Mount Lee, above which the sign is situated, was the main focal point of the developers owning Hollywoodland. They were two developers who bought around 500 acres to build a residential area around what was a deserted land. Long before this sign was brought to light, this area was just a vast landscape where the only intelligent life signs were holly bushes, oak trees, and greasewood.
They chose where the sign settled, where it should have overlooked a vast compound of luxurious homes. Their target segment was the affluent class, attempting to provide them with a luxurious living experience. However, over twenty years later, when the plan didn’t follow through, the last four letters were taken down so the sign would only read “Hollywood.”
Instead, the vast area became an excellent location for the world’s largest film studios. The built homes had different architectural styles, combining French, Spanish, and English. They’re now used as platforms and perfect film locations, given the seclusion and serenity of the area. This site, Hollywood neighbourhood, is now deemed a protected national park and a significant tourist attraction in the United States.
3. It’s Bigger Than You Think
The size of the Hollywood sign is much bigger than it appears in movies and pictures. Each letter reaches around 50 feet in height and is almost 30 feet wide. The purpose of this sign was only to advertise a housing development for a brief time. However, the hugeness of each letter made it too recognisable that the plan to take it down was eventually cancelled.
Besides the great size, the letter also flashed in clear white and was embellished with around 4000 globes of light when it was still Hollywoodland. Nowadays, it indeed takes fewer light globes after taking down the last four letters. However, the sign underwent a massive restoration in 1978, using all-steel metal to make it more durable and stand firm against different weather conditions.
In addition to its vast size that made it visible to people, the incidents around here got it in different newspapers. That had made most people living in LA, and even outside of it, more familiar with the sign. Thus, it made sense that the sign would stay an iconic attraction for more years than anticipated.
4. Sad Events Occurred Around Here
The Hollywood sign has always symbolised success, glamour, and fame. All of these are deemed positive things to look up to and admire; however, sad incidents occurred around here sometimes along the way. This sign was the death spot of a young actress, Millicent Lilian Entwistle, who went by the name “Peg.”
Peg Entwistle was a famous British actress who performed both on screen and stage. Her career started in 1925 when she starred in different Broadway productions. However, she only appeared in one film, Thirteen Women, which was released after her death in 1932. Despite the success and fame, the actress couldn’t fight the darkness and break through her struggles.
Peg managed to climb the vast letters, reaching the top of the “H” letter through the ladder of one of the workmen. The actress jumped off an extreme height, falling to her death at only 24. This tragic story had circulated, urging people to ask about the identity of the dead star who didn’t make it to fame.
The Hollywood sign is widely recognisable by the whole world. Yet, many people are still unaware of its history and the stories surrounding it. It’s more than just an iconic landmark; it’s a symbol where a lot has happened around, including tragic death and the beginning of a new era.