July 13 – A Sign is Dedicated

Posted on July 13, 2015

Have you ever seen the famous Hollywoodland sign?

I know, you're probably thinking – wait, Hollywood-LAND?

Now, the sign looks more like this:

It looks deceptively small in those photos, but the letters are 45 feet tall, and the current sign is 350 feet long.

But when it was created as an advertisement for a new housing development, in 1923, it was not only four letters long, each letter was larger – 30 feet wide and 50 feet high. Also, it was studded with light bulbs. The sign flashed:




Then the entire sign lit up. Below the sign there was a searchlight.

I read that, once maintenance of the sign stopped,
every one of the 4,000 lightbulbs was stolen!
It was a pretty amazing (and large) ad, wasn't it?

The whole thing cost around 21 thousand dollars (which, translated into today's dollars, is about 300 thousand). It was dedicated on this date in 1923 (although some sources say that the exact date of dedication isn't known). It was only intended to be up for a year and a half. But Hollywood became a big thing with the rise of the movie industry, and the sign became an internationally recognized symbol, and so the sign stayed up.

Of course, the sign deteriorated. And was vandalized. And was accidentally damaged (the sign's official caretaker accidentally ran his car into the letter “H,” for example).

In 1949, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce updated the sign by removing the word “LAND,” so that the sign would reflect the famous Hollywood district rather than the Hollywoodland housing development. The Chamber of Commerce also paid to have the “H” rebuilt and the rest of the sign repaired. The decision was made not to replace the light bulbs.

However, the wood-and-metal letters continued to deteriorate. This is what the sign looked like during the 1970s:

I think that, at that point, it read “Hullywo d.”

In the late 1970s, nine singers, actors, movie producers, and publishers donated $27,777.77 each to replace the “Hullywo d” sign with a slightly smaller but brand new sign. And in 2005, the new sign was repainted.

It was presumed by many that the deteriorated original 1923 sign had been destroyed. But it turned out that some collector had it, and he sold it to artist Bill Mack. The artist used the scarred, hole-y sheet metal that made up those huge letters to paint stars from the “Golden Age” of Hollywood. And recently Mack restored (or built a replica of?) the letter “H” and is touring it about.

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