Hollywood, also fondly known as Tinseltown, is a western suburb of the city of Los Angeles in California, U.S.A.
It is famous the world over for being the home of the American film industry and for it's iconic town sign, situated in Griffith Park on the southern slope of Mount Lee in the Santa Monica mountains.
The 45 ft ( 14m ) high sign was originally erected as an advertising sign for the housing development company Woodruff and Shoults in 1923.
The sign was designed by Thomas Fisk Goff owner of The Cresent Sign Company, and originally read HOLLYWOODLAND after the name of the development for which it was intended.
Goff's original 13 letters were made from wood which were painted white, and affixed to 13 sheet metal A-frames at a cost of $ 21,000.
The original letters were 30 ft ( 9m ) high and 50 ft ( 15m ) wide and studded with 4,000 lights overall.
The sign was initially intended to only be on show for 18 months, but with the rise of the American cinema business in the town, the sign became synonomous with the movie making world, and town planners decided to leave it up.
For twenty years the sign stood proud upon the hill west of the town, until three events were to see it's demise in the early 1940's.
From 1943 until 1949 the sign read ' ullywo d ' after a drunk driver crashed his car into the letter H, the top of the first O broke off due to deterioration and the third O fell down after a storm.
In 1949 the letter H was re - erected, and the letters LAND and all the lights were removed by the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, resulting in the sign reading as HuLLYWO D until the early 1970's.
Rock star Alice Cooper, instigator of the Save the Sign campaign.
By this point the sign was in a severely dilapilated state, resulting in the rock star Alice Cooper ( Vincent Furnier ) setting up a public restoration campaign in order to rebuild the sign.
Cooper along with 8 other people, all contributed $ 27,000 of their own money to the fund, with each sponsor donating their money to a different letter.
As well as Cooper donating the third letter O, he also dedicated it to his friend, Graucho Marx ( Julius Marx ) former American comedian and film star who died in 1977.
The nine people, with their respective letters were;
H. - Terence Donnelly - Hollywood Independent newspaper publisher.
O. - Giovanni Mazza - Movie producer.
L. - Les Kelley. - Originator of the Kelley Blue Book.
L. - Gene Autry - Singer and 1930's radio star.
Y. - Hugh Hefner. - Magazine Publisher.
W. - Andy Williams. - Singer and entertainer.
O. - Warner Brothers Records.- Recording company.
O. - Alice Cooper. - Rock star.
D. - Dennis Lidke. - Business man.
A rarely seen shot of the back of the sign.
The new letters were designed by engineer Cornelius Van Dam and constructed by the Pacific Outdoor Advertising Company, whose building contractor Hal Brown, was a decendent of one of the original builders of the sign, George Roche.
The new steel constructed letters were unveiled on the 14th of November 1978,before a live T.V audience of over 60 million people, just 4 days before Hollywood's 50th Anniversary celebrations.
The sign today is protected and managed by the Hollywood Sign Trust, a non profit making organisation, which repairs, maintains and secures the sign as well as organising fund raising events.
It is now against the law to make any unauthorised alterations to the sign, which is now encompassed by a security barrier which features motion detector and closed circuit cameras, which are linked to the Los Angeles Police Department.
The sign is not allowed to be lit up at night, after local residents took out a law suit against Los Angeles City Authority, claiming the lights were intrusive to their privacy and encouraged visitors up onto the mountainside at night.
The sign has undergone restoration only once since it's 1978 grand opening, that was in 2005, by the baycal Painting Company.
New owner of the old sign, artist and sculptor Bill Mack.
The original sign was co bought by nightclub owner Hank Berger and actor George Weinbarger from the Los Angeles Chamber Of Commerce soon after it had been pulled down, who later sold it to entrepreneur Dan Bliss, for an undisclosed six figure sum.
Bliss went on to sell the sign for a staggering $450,000 on an online auction site to artist and sculptur Bill Mack, 25 years later in 2007.
Bill Mack explains that he bought the sign because during the 1930's and 40's the sign held great symbolic significance to new up and coming Hollywood stars, who would go up to Mount Lee and touch the letters for good luck.
Bill Mack now wants to use the metal from the sign to paint the faces of those stars who touched the sign, in order to immortalise the memory of those early Hollywood film making days.
To see Bay Cal's restoration work
To see the work of Bill Mack.
To make a donation to the Hollywood Sign Trust.
The Hollywood sign as seen from space.
OTHER AMERICAN ARTICLES BY THE SAME AUTHOR.
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© D.B.Bellamy. April 2010.
All images courtesy of wikimedia commons.