The Hollywood Sign

Come See and Learn About the Most Famous Sign in the World!

picture of hollywood sign

Hollywood Sign History


Any talk of Hollywood inevitably conjures up visions of this enduring symbol of the entertainment industry. The famous Hollywood sign began as a publicity stunt in the 1930s and has since become one of the most recognizable images in all of Los Angeles.

One of the most famous landmarks in the world happened by accident! In 1923 the Hollywood sign, which until 1949 read “Hollywoodland”, was unveiled as an ad campaign for a housing district above Hollywood “proper”. The sign was originally only meant to stay erected for a year or so, but after the rise of American cinema and the sign's iconic connection to the industry, it was left up permanently. Upon it's unveiling the sign was lit up by around 4000 light bulbs. It must have been a majestic site!

hollywood sign

Once the Great Depression came though the sign fell into disrepair and all its light bulbs were stolen. Things got so bad in fact that in the early 1940s, Albert Kothe, the man intrusted with being the caretaker of the sign, got so drunk while driving up to the sign that he lost control of his Ford Model “A” and smashed it right through the “H” in the sign!!

He was fine but the car and the “letter H” were “write offs”!

In 1949, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce entered into a contract to repair the sign on the condition that the “LAND” be dropped. They wanted to get rid of the sign's connection to advertising.

Thank God, we can't have the sign becoming a symbol for “commercialism”! ;-)

Hollywood sign repair

In 1978, a second restoration project was jump started by the rocker Alice Cooper of all people. He donated his refurbished “O” in tribute to Groucho Marx.

That restoration implemented incredibly strong Australian Steel, so the famous Hollywood sign should be around for many years to come!

The Story of Peg Entwistle

Peg Entwistle

On September 18th 1932 Peg Entwistle, a Welsh girl who had just arrived in Hollywood in search of fame on the silver screen, climbed up the 50 foot ladder leading up the sheer side of the letter “H” of the sign and jumped to her death.

She had been depressed and drinking that night after receiving negative feedback from what she saw as her one “shot” at fame, a test screening of the movie “Thirteen Women”.

Since her death there have been multiple sightings of a lone woman wandering aimlessly near the sign and around Griffith Park. She is always described in the same way, a sad looking blond woman dressed in 1930s clothing.

The terrible irony of the story is that after her death, her uncle with who she lived, received a letter from the Beverly Hills Community Players to offer her a leading role in a production at the Hollywood Playhouse.

Hollywood Sign Pranks

Over the years many people have used this LA attraction to their advantage changing the letters to suit their needs! Here's a list from Wikipedia breaking down the various changes that have been made.

  • 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.



caltech hollywood sign

Hollywood Sign Pictures - Where To Take Them

Hiking near the Hollywood sign is actually illegal, a fact a lot of people don't know. And they're not kidding around either, the sign is protected by security cameras, restricting gates and vigilant park rangers!

Even though the Hollywood sign is visible from most of the city south of the hills, getting a good angle for a picture can sometimes be tricky. Our best recommendation for picture taking is up Beachwood Drive.

Starting at Franklin you can drive north up the drive while the sign is framed beautifully ahead of you the whole way!

Another great vantage point for the Hollywood sign can be found on the terraces of the Griffith Observatory . From here you get a nice angled and elevated view.

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