Things you should know about the Hollywood Sign
I could tell you the whole history of the Hollywood Sign, which was erected on the side of Mt. Lee in 1923 by LA Times publisher Harry Chandler and his partners to promote a new real estate development – Hollywoodland – but a really detailed, in-depth description is already available on The Hollywood Sign’s official website.
Instead, I’m going to share with you my favorite HOLLYWEIRD SIGN facts – those things that make the history rich and are why I am so obsessed… and I hope after reading them, you will be, too!
1) Despite what you’ve seen in movies like Rock of Ages, where Sherrie (Julianne Hough) and Drew (Diego Boneta) hang out under the Sign, in real life you can't go all that close to the famous landmark. Not only did the Department of Homeland Security help devise the space-age security system BUT if you get too close, then a helicopter will come flying out and you will get yelled at over a loudspeaker by cops or park rangers.
2) There are definitely rattlesnakes, which my dog and I have seen on many terrifying occasions, and also mountain lions I'm told, so nature does her part at protecting the Sign, too.
3) In the 1970s, the Sign was falling apart. (You might have seen the movie Argo, which showed the sad state of the Sign using real archival pics.) Hugh Hefner threw a party and got a bunch of celebs and other wealthy folks to sponsor a letter for almost $28K. Alice Cooper bought an “O” to honor his friend Groucho Marx. All I'm saying is in what universe are Alice Cooper and Groucho Marx FRIENDS? Why, Hollyweird, of course.
4) Over the years, several daring people have altered the Sign. My two faves were in 1976, it was changed to say HOLLYWeeD, to celebrate pot being decriminalized, and in 1987 it went in the opposite direction to HOLYWOOD, commemorating a visit from Pope John Paul II.
5) Whenever the Hollywood Sign gets cleaned up, the powers that be love tying in the promotion with fabulous, iconic, and plastic-surgery friendly ladies, including the late, great Phyllis Diller. She called herself the “Facelift Queen” as the ceremony hostess to go along with Dutch Boy paint’s makeover of the Sign in 1995.
6) Dolly Parton credits the Hollywood Sign for her Dollywood inspiration: "When I first saw the Hollywood Sign, I thought, how wonderful would it be if I could change the 'H' to a 'D' for the day.” (Spin magazine, 1986) Now in Pigeon Forge TN, she has big double-D's (HA!)
7) The original caretaker Albert Kothe was basically the kind of guy I date: He got so drunk one night that he drove his 1928 Ford station wagon off the side of the cliff. He was fine, but the car and the H in the Sign, not so much. They were both totaled.
8) The Sign should really be in Beverly Hills, or at least have its own reality show: it has a trust fund (The Hollywood Sign Trust), gets regular facelifts (as I’ve mentioned!), and runs a 24/7 webcam.
9) There are many imitators of the Hollywood Sign – Hollinwood in Manchester, England; Herwood in Hervanta, Finland; Hammarstrand in Sweden – but only one original!!
10) The #1 pose in front of the Hollywood sign is a selfie that makes it look like you’ve got Hollywood in the palm of your hand. Of course if you follow my map, you'll be too close for such a run-of-the-mill shot. Instead, your pic will be as legendary as the Sign itself! Happy hiking!