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Troubles, Imitations and Even a Death: The Story of the Legendary Hollywood Sign

U.S.A.Troubles, Imitations and Even a Death: The Story of...

Problems, imitations and even a death: a history of the iconic Hollywood sign (Photo: Archive)

White letters stand out at the top of Los Angeles, California. They point to the entertainment capital of the world, where cinematographic pieces that are distributed in almost all latitudes of the terrestrial globe and dreams, which are similar, are produced. They spell: “Hollywood”.

In the early 20th century, the arrival of a group of filmmakers marked the beginning of “Tinseltown”, also known as the capital of American entertainment. Over the years, the district acquired glamor and fame that would rise to this day, but something was missing. A marquee for a place that needs to show its shows constantly.

This sign was created in 1923. According to its official website, its budget was approximately US$21,000. Hollywood sign, And although this was not his goal, it became, perhaps, one of the most recognizable signs of the “dream factory”.

Its history is full of dark passages: an actress jumped over the letter “H” into the void and died, having been on the verge of collapse and repair on several occasions. this is The history of the most iconic landmark in Western cinema and how it became the symbol it is today.

The construction was carried out by the company, Crescent Sign Company, with the aim of promoting the suburban community.  In the picture, a remodeling done in the 70s (Photo: FILE)
The construction was carried out by the company, Crescent Sign Company, with the aim of promoting the suburban community. In the picture, a remodeling done in the 70s (Photo: FILE)

As it happened, in 1905 Originally a film production company from Chicago came to California, Due to an accident due to bad weather, where he settled. However it is also likely that it escaped Thomas Alva Edison, who patented the kinetoscope and charged a certain sum of money to use his invention in New York. reason why Some decided to settle in a distant part of the country, where Edison had no power.

Other filmmakers moved to the city after that first company, and just five years later, at least 15 independent studios were already producing films from there. In 1915, according to the book signal story, The film industry was a great “boom”. Movies were consumed in most parts of the country.

five years later, At least 40 million US citizens were consuming films produced in the United States. For its part, the Hollywood Hills district was turning into the glamorous place it is today. Some Actors and actresses have only one dream in mind and heart: to become film stars.

With the growth of studios, restaurants and nightclubs also began to emerge. The landscape began to change and, at the end of Beachwood Canyon, just below what is now known as Mount Lee, Construyo from “Hollywoodland””, a real estate development area that will have four different architectural styles and which invites citizens to live in a special place with spectacular views; This invited him to experience an escape in the Hollywood Hills.

photo of sign placement "hollywoodland",  In the picture, a remodeling done in the 70s (Photo: FILE)
Photo of “Hollywoodland” sign placement. In the picture, a remodeling done in the 70s (Photo: FILE)

In 1923, the sign was created as an advertising strategy for that residential community. Various versions are known about the idea that may have given rise to the famous letters. One of them, that real estate developer, HJ Whitley, baptized as the “father of Hollywood”, may have advised Harry Chandler to use a sign to make himself known.

However, according to the Hollywood Sign Trust, this version is unlikely, as Chandler and Whitley may have been opposites. There is also a version that states that during the construction sketch, Someone accidentally drew a “Hollywoodland” sign in the mountains, just to indicate the project’s location. This description was later approved by Chadler.

Although there is no exact version of why it was built, construction work was completed in 1923. It was done by Thomas Fisk Goff, owner of the Crescent Sign Company.

The order was of 13 wooden letters 15 meters in height and 9 in width. There will also be installation of electric bulbs that will illuminate the signs at night in parts, first the word “holi”, then “wood” and then “land”.

The declaration will be considered provisional. however, with The rising fame of the film industry soon became an icon that could no longer be separated from it. And over time, they lost the last part of the word to become “Hollywood”. The decision that was made in 1949, when it was already owned by the City of Los Angeles.

At the age of 24, actress Millicent
At the age of 24, actress Millicent “Peg” Entwistle decided to take her own life by jumping over the letter “H” on the “Hollywood” sign (Photo: FILE)

at the age of 24, Actress Millicent “Peg” Entwistle resolves to kill herself, After her acting job was practically eliminated from the industry and she had to deal with a somewhat turbulent personal life.

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according to the book Peg Entwistle and the Hollywood Sign Suicide Written by James Zekur, the actress began preparing for an acting career at an early age.

He moved from Wales to Hollywood, where he lived with relatives who were involved with the industry. After enrolling in theater school in Hollywood, she traveled to New York to work in some stage productions. It was 1925 and it seemed that his career was going from strength to strength. However, this will not last long.

a marriage in which you experienced violence by your husband and Her performance as Hazel Cousins ​​in the film in thirteen womenThe woman who had an affair with another woman kicked him out of the industry. RKO’s producer Dasid O. Selznick reportedly ordered Entwistle’s role to be reduced to a cameo on the grounds that a homosexual relationship would be “impossible to project under the code.”

    RKO's producer Dasid O.  Selznick reportedly ordered Entwistle's role to be reduced to a cameo on the grounds that it was a homosexual relationship.
RKO’s producer Dasid O. Selznick reportedly ordered Entwistle’s role to be reduced to a cameo on the grounds that a homosexual relationship would be “impossible to project under the code.” (Photos: Archive)

This expelled her from studies and with just over 24 years of age she was already on the Hollywood blacklist: she couldn’t act and on top of that, her ex-husband had a new marriage that was much happier. It seemed one day in september 1932, Peg pulled himself over the letter “H” on the famous sign.,

As per reports, a passenger found some of his belongings and later found his body. In his bag was a note that read: “I’m scared. I’m a coward. I’m sorry for everything. If I had done this a long time ago, it would have hurt a lot, pee.”

The death of the young actress marked the history of the sign. But this is not the only dark episode he has gone through.

In the 1960s, the sign was in poor condition due to the crisis in the district in which it is located.  It was later repaired on several occasions.
In the 1960s, the sign was in poor condition due to the crisis in the district in which it is located. It was later repaired on several occasions.

During its history, The famous sign has faced several neglects and renovations. The first of them was in 1930. In 1944, it became property of the City of Los Angeles, although neglect continued and was repaired in 1949, the year the “land” portion was removed. It was finally repaired for the last time in 1978. This time it is being given a completely new look.

characters, as well as a symbol of Hollywood glamor and fame, tThe film also survived the woes faced by the industry. Only in the 1960s, the only studio left in Hollywood was of great quality And many Angelenos moved into the San Fernando Valley, leaving the district in jeopardy and the large sign in great disarray.

It was not until the early 1970s that the sign was repaired and declared a “cultural monument” by the City of Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Board. At the same time, a campaign was launched to raise awareness in the community and to “save the sign” with resources donated through concerts. An amount of 15 thousand US dollars was raised on this occasion.

FILE PHOTO: The iconic Hollywood sign is shown on a hill above a neighborhood in Los Angeles, California, US, February 1, 2019.  Reuters/Mike Blake/File photo
FILE PHOTO: The iconic Hollywood sign is shown on a hill above a neighborhood in Los Angeles, California, US, February 1, 2019. Reuters/Mike Blake/File photo

Although this repair was somewhat superficial and By 1978 it was repaired more intensively. This time, with donations from the cast and various personalities on the show: Terrence Donnelly contributed to the remake of “H”; Giovanni Mazza donated the first “L” and Jean Autry and KTLA the second to repair O. Les Kelley. The “Y” was donated by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce in honor of Hugh Hefner, the famous owner of the Playboy Mansion.

The “W” was donned by Andy Williams and the first “O” by Warner Bros. Finally, the last two letters were donated by Alice Cooper in honor of Groucho Marx and Dennis Lidke, respectively. Finally, Now it has become one of the American icon. Recognizable, perhaps, anywhere in the world.

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