The historic word has loomed in Tinseltown since before movies even started talking, becoming a symbol of the entire film industry.
For the first time in decades, the Hollywood Sign, at least part of it, was lit up Friday in celebration of its 100th anniversary. The nine-letter tag officially says she’s a centenarian, but as is the case with many old ladies in Hollywood, she looks as fresh as ever.
Like the actors and actresses she looks down upon, Alama has been in her fair share of films.
Directors who want to tell their audience that a movie is set in Los Angeles have an easy shot, while a director who wants to signal the destruction of America can fire his special effects team at the sign.
It also witnessed a real-life tragedy: British-born actress Paige Entwistle committed suicide when she fell from the top of the H in 1932.
The sign, a must-see for any movie buff or tourist visiting Los Angeles, originally read “Hollywoodland,” and was built in 1923 as an advertisement for an upscale real estate development.
During its first decade, it was routinely lit by thousands of lights, with “HOLY,” “WOOD,” and “LAND” in turn lighting up a beacon for the desirable homes displayed below.
By the 1940s, the letters appeared somewhat tattered.
Vandals or windstorms damaged the H, before local residents decided they’d had enough and asked the city to tear it down, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Realizing they had a blockbuster brand on their hands, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce stepped in and offered to fix it.
But the last four letters had to be deleted, as the sign was supposed to represent the entire city, not just a trendy plot of land, and by 1949, the newly restored sign simply said “Hollywood.”
Mr. Nice Guy
Three decades of blazing sun and occasional storms took their toll on the 50-foot (15 m) wooden letters.
Eventually, the first O was reduced to a lowercase “u” and the last O was completely flipped.
Enter Alice Cooper — the annoying father of rock — who led a campaign to restore the sign to its former glory, donating $28,000.
Eight others participated, including actor Gene Autry, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, and singer Andy Williams, each of whom sponsored a message.
(Cooper is the first O, Autry has the second L, Heffner gets the Y and Williams gets the W).
The alternate letters are more compact, standing only 44 feet tall, but are made of steel, though they remain distinctively irregular.
The Hollywood Sign Trust said last year that the repainting it carried out in time for its 100th anniversary used nearly 400 gallons (1,500 liters) of paint and primer.
Friday night’s lighting was purely symbolic, with a simple extension of the second L through the darkness, said Jeff Zarenam, president of the Hollywood Sign Trust.
Unlike most world landmarks, the Hollywood Sign is not usually lit at night, partly over the objections of people who live nearby.
But Zarinam said he might start to shine again.
“What we are working on is a plan to light the sign on very special occasions,” he said.
“We have some very important sporting events coming to Los Angeles like the FIFA World Cup, and we have the Olympics (in 2028), so those are the types of events that we might want to light up the Hollywood Sign in the future,” he added. “
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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