Hollywood Sign(s)

The Hollywood Sign: It’s more than just nine white letters spelling out a city’s name; it’s one of the world’s most evocative symbols – a universal metaphor for ambition, success, glamour …for this dazzling place, industry and dream we call H-O-L-L-Y-W-O-O-D.


The Hollywood Sign is a famous landmark in the Hollywood Hills area of Los Angeles, California, spelling out the name of the area in 50†feet (15†m)[1] high white letters. It was created as an advertisement in 1923, but garnered increasing recognition after its initial purpose had been fulfilled.[2]

Hollywood Sign Pranks and Vandalism

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, the letters appear straight-across.
Hollywood Sign Aerial Shot

The sign makes frequent appearances in popular culture, particularly in establishing shots for films and television programs set in or around Hollywood. Signs of similar style, but spelling different words, are frequently seen as parodies.

The Hollywood Sign Originally HOLLYWOODLAND

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, 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."

Originally the Hollywood Sign was lit up by 4000 light bulbs

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†ft (9†m) wide and 50†ft (15†m) high, and was studded with some 4000 light bulbs.


The sign was officially dedicated on July 13, 1923. It was not intended to be permanent. Some sources[who?] say its 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.

The Ghost of Peg Entwistle

It became so associated with Hollywood that in September 1932, actress Peg Entwistle committed suicide by jumping to her death from the letter "H", as she saw the sign as a symbol of the industry that had rejected her.


In 1949, when the Great Depression arrived, the developers of the sign went bankrupt and all maintenance of the sign stopped. Every single one of the 4,000 bulbs were stolen and the letters began to deteriorate because of weather and vandalism. In 1949, the Chamber of Commerce removed the last four letters, (land), and repaired the rest.

Official maintenance of the sign ended in 1939, and it rapidly began to deteriorate.

During the early 1940s, Albert Kothe (the sign's official caretaker) caused an accident that destroyed the letter H,[3] as seen in many historical pictures. Kothe was driving his car up to the top of Mount Lee drunk, lost control of the 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.
Behind The Hollywood Sign


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 city, not the "Hollywoodland" housing development.[4] 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 wooden and sheet metal sign continued to deteriorate in the open air of the Hollywood Hills. Eventually the first O splintered and broke off, resembling a lowercase u, and the third O fell down completely, leaving the severely dilapidated sign reading "HuLLYWO†D".

Shock Rocker Alice Cooper Comes to the Rescue

In 1978, due in large part to 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 $27,777 each (totaling $250,000) to sponsor replacement letters made of Australian steel, guaranteed to last for many years.

The new letters were 45†ft (13.7†m) high and ranged from 31 to 39†ft (9.3 to 11.8†m) wide. The new version of the sign was unveiled on Hollywood's 75th anniversary, November 14, 1978, before a live television audience of 60 million people.

Refurbishment, donated by Bay Cal Commercial Painting,[5] 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.[6] Bliss sold the sign to artist Bill Mack.

Home Video from a Distance of the fire almost engulfing the Hollywood Sign
Very Chillng Home Movie of The Hollywood Fire


On September 18, 1932, after a night of drinking and feeling depressed, Peg Entwistle would tell her Uncle Harold that she was going to walk up Beachwood to meet some friends at the local drug store. Instead, she would scratch and claw her way up the slope to the Hollywood sign where she took off her coat and folded it neatly. She placed it, along with her purse, at the base of the maintenance ladder which led up the letter "H". She would then climb up the workman's ladder on the back of the 50 foot "H" and perform a perfect Swan dive into the ground. Peg was more than likely killed instantly. She was only 24 years old.

Peg Entwistle (Hollywood Sign Suicide 1932)

The Ghost of Peg Entwistle at the Hollywood Sign:

There have been many sightings by park rangers and hikers in Griffith Park of the ghost of a woman who is dressed in 1930-style clothing. The ghost is described as a blonde woman who appears to be sad. One evening a man and his girlfriend were walking their dog on a trail in the area. Their dog started to act strangely. They soon saw a lady appear in front of them and she was dressed in 1930s clothing. The lady seemed to be despondent and quickly vanished. The description of the female ghost is always the same; a blonde dressed in clothing from the 1930s and she is sad or in a daze.

A park ranger at Griffith Park has seen the female ghost several times and always detects the smell of gardenias. He has stood at the sign and seen the motion detectors trigger when nobody else has been present.

Peg was only 24 years old when she jumped to her death. Sadly, a letter arrived at her uncle’s house a few days later from the Beverly Hills Community Players to offer Peg a substantial role in a production at the Hollywood Playhouse.

The Hollywood tabloids nicknamed Peg Entwistle “the Hollywood sign girl”.


You Can Ride Right Under The Hollywood Sign

Mount Hollywood is just one mountain over from the one where the Hollywood Sign (click link to the video) is. And just a bit taller. It’s about an hour’s horseback ride from Burbank’s Circle K Ranch or a half hour from Sunset Stables, (which is located right under the Hollywood Sign). CLICK HERE To See Hollywood By Horseback

You Can Hike Pretty Close to The Hollywood Sign
long hike up slow start but really worth it


*In the Late 70’s, In a successful effort to restore the Hollywood sign to its original glory the following people sponsored the letters for $28,000 each:

H - Terrence Donnelly, Publisher Hollywood Independent Newspaper
O - Giovanni Mazza, Italian movie producer
L - Les Kelley - Originator of the Kelley Blue Book
L - Gene Autrey - With his pioneer television station KTLA
Y - Hugh Hefner - Creator of Playboy Enterprises
W - Andy Williams - Singer
O - Warner Brothers Records
O - Alice Cooper - In memory of Groucho Marx
D - Dennis Lidtke

Update: Land near Hollywood sign up for sale
Here's an article dated Feb 14, 2007 about the Hollywood sign going up for sale.

A mountaintop property located near the Hollywood sign and once owned by Howard Hughes is up for sale.

A group of Chicago investors is putting the 138 acres of land just west of the "H" in the sign on the market Wednesday.

The asking price: $22 million.

The property offers a stunning 360-degree panorama of the Los Angeles Basin and the San Fernando Valley, says Fox River Financial Resources, which acquired the land in 2002 for $1,675,000.

"We weren't sure at first what we had," Fox River general partner Keith Dickson said Wednesday. "After looking at it, we kind of feel we got a Van Gogh at a garage sale."

Hughes once planned to build a love nest on the land for his then-paramour Ginger Rogers. Their relationship didn't last, and the property remained undeveloped and in the eccentric billionaire's trust for decades.

The land atop the 1,820-foot Cahuenga Peak consists of five legal lots and "the ridges on the top are nice and smooth," allowing for construction of homes, Dickson said.

The Hollywood sign is just below and east of the property.


H 45 ft. high by 33 ft. 6 inches wide
O 45 ft. high by 33 ft. wide
L 45 ft. high by 31 ft. wide
L Same as above
Y 45 ft. high by 35 ft. wide
W 45 ft. high by 39 ft. 9 inches wide
O 45 ft. high by 33 ft. wide
O Same as above
D 45 ft. high by 33 ft. wide

The thickness of the letters varies, from 9 to 13 ft. each.

• The Sign was declared Los Angeles Cultural-Historical Monument #111 by the City of Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Board of in 1973.

• The Hollywood Sign Trust was formed in 1978 and is dedicated to repairing, maintaining, securing and improving of the Hollywood Sign.

• The Hollywood Sign is one of the most photographed icons in the world. The Sign has appeared in countless motion pictures and television productions as well as in photos taken by millions of tourists and residents over the last 76 years.

• The Official Hollywood Sign web site, HollywoodSign.org was launched in conjunction with the millennial lighting of the sign on New Year’s Eve 1999.

• The millennium lighting of the Sign marks the first time the sign had been lit since the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

THE HOLLYWOOD SIGN upclose and clear video
HOLLYWOOD SIGN- behind the letters

Hollywood Sign Pranks and Vandalism

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.

It is illegal to make unauthorized 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.
• HOLLYWEED – December 1983, for the opening scene of the film Hollywood Hot Tubs.
• HOLYWOOD – April 1977, for Easter sunrise service, viewable from the Hollywood Bowl.
• GO NAVY – November 1983, before that year's Army-Navy Game at the Rose Bowl stadium.
• RAFFEYSOD – January 1985, reportedly done by a band called "The Raffeys", who were trying to drum up publicity.
• HOLLYWOOD II – April 1986, to mark the revitalization of area.
• FOX – April 1987, for promotion of the television network.
• CALTECH – May 1987, on Hollywood's 100th birthday.
• OLLYWOOD – July 1987, during the Iran-Contra hearings.
• HOLYWOOD – September 1987, for Pope John Paul II's arrival.
• USCWOOD – 1987, for the annual USC-UCLA football game.
For the 1992 film Cool World, a giant cartoon character (named "Holli Would") from the film was installed, appearing to sit on the sign. This was designed as publicity for the movie, and it remained there for a long time.
• OIL WAR – 1991, for the Gulf War.
• PEROTWOOD – During the 1992 presidential election, showing support for candidate Ross Perot.
• PINKYWOOD – for the 1992 Don Bluth film Rock-a-Doodle during a chase scene around the "Pinky Pictures" studio back lot.
• 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.
• PEROTWOOD – During the 1996 presidential election in support of candidate Ross Perot.
• JOLLYGOOD – When Virgin Air began flying nonstop from LA to London. On January 1, 2000, the sign was lit up in an array of flashing colors in celebration of the new millennium.


May 1987

July 1987


January 1976 / December 1983

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