The Hollywood Sign – Guess Who’s 90 years old?

Fun Facts About the Hollywood Sign.

hollywoodWe spend a lot of time trawling the internet looking at signage information that we think might be useful to our customers. Every now and then we come across something that may not be necessarily useful (unless it comes up in the pub quiz!) but is either a bit of fun or just interesting. We hope that this post written by Catherine R from www.sign.com/blog is maybe a bit of both.

1) The Hollywood Sign is almost 90 years old.

The original Hollywood sign was constructed in 1923, the same year that Rin Tin Tin gained fame as a canine film star. Though it wasn’t originally meant to be an icon for the film industry, the sign was created during the beginning of the glamorous, decadent Golden Age of Hollywood: in 1925, Ben Hur was released with its record-breaking production budget of $3.95 million.

2) The Hollywood sign wasn’t created with the movies in mind.

The sign wasn’t created to advertise movies and starlets; it was created to advertise real estate. Developers S. H. Woodruff and Tracy E. Shoults began developing a new neighborhood called “Hollywoodland.” The sign was meant to act as a huge billboard to draw new home buyers to the hillside.

3) The first sign didn’t say “Hollywood.”

To advertise the Hollywoodland development, the sign was composed of 13 letters that spelled out the development’s name: “HOLLYWOODLAND.” The last four letters of the sign wouldn’t be dropped until 1949.

4) The original Hollywood Sign was bigger than the current sign.

The original letters were constructed of large sections of sheet metal and stood as high as 50 feet tall. They were held up with a complicated framing system that included wooden scaffold, pipes, wires and poles.

5) 4,000 light bulbs graced the original Hollywoodland sign.

The bulbs were timed to blink so that the words “HOLLY,” “WOOD,” and “LAND” each lit up consecutively, followed by the entire word. This was not considered tacky, but rather quite progressive and modern. Each bulb generated only 8 watts of electricity, so 4,000 were needed in order to create the impressive display that Woodruff and Shoults needed to sell building lots.

6) The sign was a very expensive billboard.

Considering that the original Hollywoodland sign was only intended to be an advertisement for a real estate development, it was quite expensive. The construction cost of the sign was around $21,000, which is roughly the equivalent of $250,000 in 2013 dollars. Imagine building a new neighborhood and paying a quarter of a million bucks to advertise it with one sign!

7) An Englishman designed the Hollywood sign.

Thomas Fisk Goff, the artist who created the Hollywood sign, was born in London in 1890. He immigrated to the United States and settled in Los Angeles in the early 1920’s and opened the Crescent Sign Company. Woodruff and Shoults commissioned Goff to create and install the sign. In addition to owning a sign company, Goff was an artist who painted landscapes on canvas.

8) The sign had its very own caretaker.

The real estate developers hired Albert Kothe to act as caretaker. In addition to other responsibilities, Albert was in charge of the maintenance of the Hollywoodland sign. One of his jobs was to replace the lightbulbs on the sign when they burnt out, a large task considering the number of bulbs and the height of each letter.

9) The original sign was only meant to last for 18 months.

Since it was only intended to be a temporary advertisement for the new real estate development, the Hollywoodland sign was designed to be in place for about 18 months, while lots were sold.

10) The Hollywood sign was the site of a suicide.

Sadly, the allure of fame and fortune was not reality for many who flocked to Hollywood in hopes of becoming actors and actresses. One such unlucky girl, Peg Entwistle, left New York City and moved in with her uncle in Los Angeles while she tried to become a film star. Despite her efforts at stardom, Peg failed to land the big role she’d hoped for, and on September 18, 1932, she hiked up to the Hollywood sign, climbed a ladder to the top of the “H” and jumped to her death.

Click her to read Catherine R’s original article