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The 85th Annual Rudolph Valentino Memorial Service

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Aug 25th, 2012
2012
Aug 25

RUDOLPH VALENTINO

Candids from the 85th Annual Rudolph Valentino Memorial Service

 

 

The annual service was held in the Cathedral Mausoleum at Hollywood Forever Cemetery on Thursday, August 23, 2012 at 12:10 PM

 

 

 

The Cathedral Mausoleum was standing-room-only as fans of the silent film idol attend this years service.

 

 

 

Tyler Cassity, owner of Hollywood Forever Cemetery, opened the ceremonies

 

 

 

Tracy Ryan Terhune, author of Valentino Forever, was again this years emcee

 

 

 

Sylvia Valentino Huber, the great niece of Rudolph Valentino, delivered remarks from the Valentino family

 

 

 

 

Psychic-medium, Michael J. Kouri provided musical entertainment

 

 

 

Allison Francis read selected poems from “Daydreams” by Rudolph Valentino

 

 

 

Members of the audience enjoy two videos; one a tribute to past participants of the Valentino Memorial and another celebrating the centennial of Universal Studios where Valentino made four films early in his career. A scene from “A Society Sensation (1918) was shown. (Video editing by Frank Labrador Productions)

 

 

 

Mary Mallory, author of “Hollywoodland,” discussed Rudolph Valentino’s Hollywood home

 

 

 

 

Comedian Will Ryan also entertained musically

 

 

 

 

Author Michael Oldham talks about his book, “The Valentino Formula”

 

 

 

Stella Grace, of the Valentino Memorial Committee, closed the service by leading the audience in the 23rd Psalm

 

 

 

 Fans gather in the corridor to pay their respects at Valentino’s crypt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hollywood Forever Cemetery owner, Tyler Cassity and Valentino memorial organizer, Stella Grace discuss next year’s service

 

 

 

Stella Grace and Tracy Ryan Terhune of the Valentino Memorial Committee. Other members include Chanell O Farrill and Marvin Paige.

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My interview on The Gravecast Show

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Apr 6th, 2012
2012
Apr 6

INTERVIEW

The Gravecast Show: Interview With Allan Ellenberger

 

 

 

Recently I was interviewed by Josh Perry the host of The Gravecast Show Along with his cohost, author and blogger Steve Goldstein, we talked about our mutual interest in celebrity graves, and he also asked about my books, my blogs and cemeteries and graves in general. Please check it out, I hope you enjoy it.

 

 

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO MY INTERVIEW WITH JOSH AND STEVE

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Missing Hollywoodland plaques finally reported stolen

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jun 4th, 2011
2011
Jun 4

HOLLYWOOD NEWS

Theft of historic ‘Hollywoodland’ signs is finally under investigation

 

Two plaques were pried off the stone gateway to the residential neighborhood below the Hollywood sign in April. The bronze markers said “Hollywoodland Est. 1923.” (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times) 

 

Residents tried to report the plaques missing in April, but police are only now launching an investigation. Why? The signs were city property, and the city hadn’t filed a formal crime report.

 

By Bob Pool
Los Angeles Times
June 4, 2011

 

Six weeks after two historic plaques were stolen from the entrance to one of Hollywood’s most famous neighborhoods, Los Angeles police are launching an investigation.

 

The delay was because no one had yet filed a formal crime report about the missing bronze “Hollywoodland Est. 1923″ markers, which were pried from the stone gateway to the historic residential area beneath the Hollywood sign.

 

Residents say they attempted to file a theft report on April 16 after they noticed the plaques’ disappearance but were not allowed to because the markers are considered Los Angeles city property.

 

No one from the city filed a report, either.

 

CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE READING

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Hollywood Heritage Salutes Hollywoodland

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jun 1st, 2011
2011
Jun 1

HOLLYWOOD EVENTS

Hollywood Heritage salutes Hollywoodland

 

 

 

Sunday, June 5, 2011 at 7:00 p.m.

Hollywood Heritage Museum

2100 N. Highland Avenue

(across from the Hollywood Bowl)

Hollywood, CA 90068

 www.hollywoodheritage.org

 

Hollywood Heritage will celebrate the release of the book Hollywoodland from Arcadia Publishing with author Mary Mallory and presenting slides, film, and artifacts of Hollywoodland on display in the museum lobby.  Hollywoodland is a visual history of the neighborhood’s development, detailing its construction, amenities, famous homes, residents, movie locations, and one of the world’s most famous icons, the Hollywood Sign. 

 

Ms. Mallory will present a Power Point presentation highlighting chapters in the book, augmented by a clip reel of films shot in Hollywoodland/Beachwood Canyon and screening of rare 1923 archival footage of the Hollywood sign provided by the Moving Image Research Collections (MIRC) at the University of South Carolina. The footage is among more than 200 hours of material in its Fox Movietone News Collection, which experts have described as the world’s most complete moving-image record of American culture in the 1920s. 

 

Established in 1923 by investors Eli P. Clark, M. H. Sherman, Harry  Chandler, and developers Tracy E. Shoults, and S. H. Woodruff, Hollywoodland was the first themed residential development built in the Hollywood foothills.  Beautiful views and elegant homes lent a fairy tale atmosphere to the neighborhood, drawing such famous artists and performers as James M. Cain, Aldous Huxley, Max Steiner, Bela Lugosi, Robert Montgomery, and Madonna as residents. One of the world’s most recognizable icons, the Hollywood Sign, was constructed as a giant billboard promoting the development.

 

About the author: 

Mary Mallory serves as a member of Hollywood Heritage’s Board of Directors, where she acts as a docent for the Hollywood Heritage Museum. She is also a member of the Cultural Affairs Committee of the Studio City Neighborhood Council, which organized the 75th Anniversary of Republic Studios in 2010.  She is a photograph processor at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Margaret Herrick Library, and holds a master’s in film history from the University of Texas at Austin. In addition, Mallory acts as a theatre critic for The Tolucan Times and has appeared on Turner Classic Movies.

 

Admission: 

$5.00 for Hollywood Heritage Members; $10.00 for non-members.

www.hollywoodheritage.org

323-874-2276

 

Free Parking in Lot D. Tickets for this event are also available online with your credit card via Brown Paper Tickets. A nominal fee will be added to the ticket price for this service. Just go to: https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/176909 for more information. Or call 1-800-838-3006 to reserve tickets over the phone

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Hollywoodland signs stolen

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Apr 30th, 2011
2011
Apr 30

HOLLYWOOD NEWS

Another mystery beneath the Hollywood sign

 

 Two historic monument plaques, as shown in a book, are missing from a stone gate in Beachwood Canyon. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

 

First it was directional signs for tourists that vanished, and now 1923 bronze ‘Hollywoodland’ plaques marking the stone gateway to the community have disappeared. Theories abound.

 

By Bob Pool
Los Angeles Times
April 27, 2011

 

Residents living on the narrow lanes beneath the Hollywood sign have quarreled for months over small directional signs pointing tourists to a place where the iconic Tinseltown symbol can be viewed and photographed.

 

The road signs benefited homeowners on the street that dead-ends at the locked fire road that leads to Mt. Lee and the Hollywood sign. Unfortunately, the signs funneled sightseers and tour buses onto other nearby streets. Then the signs mysteriously disappeared. Whether that’s a crime depends on which street you live on.

 

But now real thieves have stolen two signs that nearly everyone in the hillside neighborhood mourns losing: the historic 1923 “Hollywoodland” bronze plaques that marked the stone gateway to the community.

 

Click here to continue reading the above Los Angeles Times article

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Peg Entwistle’s suicide

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Sep 16th, 2010
2010
Sep 16

HOLLYWOOD SUICIDES

Peg Entwistle, the suicide blonde of Hollywoodland

 

 

 

Today, September 16, is the 78th anniversary of the suicide of Peg Entwistle. In remembrance, here is a rerun of an article recently posted. Rest in peace Peg.

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger
Hollywoodland
 

On the evening of Sunday, September 18, 1932, a mysterious phone call was received at the Central Station of the Los Angeles Police Department:

 

“I was hiking near the Hollywoodland sign today,” said a feminine voice, “and near the bottom I found a woman’s shoe and jacket. A little further on I noticed a purse. In it was a suicide note. I looked down the mountain and saw a body. I don’t want any publicity in this matter, so I wrapped up the jacket, shoe and purse in a bundle and laid them on the steps of the Hollywood Police Station.”

 

The officer asked for the woman’s name but she hung up before he could get more information. He called the Hollywood station and the package was found as described, including the alleged suicide note which read: “I’m afraid I’m a coward. I am sorry for everything. If I had done this thing a long time ago it would have saved a lot of pain. P.E.”

 

 

 

 

 

Detectives made their way to the Hollywoodland sign, where they found the body of a woman, described as being about 25 years old, with blue eyes and blonde hair. She was reasonably well dressed. With no other identification except for the “P.E.” on the suicide note, her body was sent to the morgue where it remained unclaimed.

 

Meanwhile, the following morning, Harold Entwistle read in the papers about an unidentified woman, dubbed “The Hollywood Sign Girl” by the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, who had apparently jumped to her death from the top of the letter “H” in the fifty-foot-high “Hollywoodland” electric sign. Entwistle, an actor, lived at 2428 Beachwood Drive and could see the sign from his front porch. He was suspicious about his niece Millicent, who he had not seen since the previous Friday evening walking up Beachwood towards the Hollywood Hills. She said she was going to buy a book at the drug store and then visit with some friends.

 

Millicent, a struggling actress, was known professionally, and to her friends as Peg. It was Peg’s absence and the alleged suicide note that Entwistle regarded as significant — the report said it was signed with the initials “P.E.” After contacting authorities at the county morgue, Entwistle’s fears were confirmed when he identified the dead woman as his niece.

 

“Although she never confided her grief to me,” Entwistle told officers, “I was somehow aware that she was suffering intense mental anguish. She was only 24. It is a great shock to me that she gave up the fight as she did.”

 

Entwistle denied reports that a broken love affair had actuated his niece to take her life. Instead, it was determined that disappointments for a screen career, equal to the success she had enjoyed on stage, were attributed as the reason behind the spectacular suicide.

 

Millicent Lilian Entwistle was born in Port Talbot, Wales to English parents Robert and Emily Entwistle, on February 5, 1908 while her parents were visiting relatives. They returned to their West Kensington (outside London) home where she lived until age 8. Peg’s mother died in 1910 and four years later, Robert married Lauretta Ross, the sister of his brother Harold’s wife Jane.

 

In August 1913, Robert was brought to New York by famed Broadway producer Charles Frohman as his stage manager. After a few years, on March 20, 1916, Peg, along with her parents and aunt and uncle, arrived in New York on the SS Philadelphia. In 1918, Robert and Lauretta had a son Milton, and two years later Robert was born. In 1921, Lauretta died from meningitis and a year later, on November 2, 1922, Robert was struck down by a hit-and-run driver on Park Avenue. He lingered for weeks and died just before Christmas 1922. Now orphans, Peg and her brothers were taken in by her uncle Harold and aunt Jane.

 

A few years later Peg was living in Boston where she made her first appearance on the professional stage with the Henry Jewett Reparatory Company where she was taught to act by Blanche Yurka. In October 1925, Harold Entwistle’s employer, actor Walter Hampden, gave Peg an uncredited walk-on in his Broadway production of Hamlet with Ethel Barrymore. A young Bette Davis was inspired to act after seeing Peg perform in Henrik Ibsen’s The Wild Duck. Over the years Davis made several references to Entwistle, saying that she “wanted to be exactly like Peg Entwistle.”

 

 

 

 

After serving an apprenticeship with them for several seasons, she came to New York and was recruited by the prestigious New York Theatre Guild and obtained a small part in The Man from Toronto in June 1926. Afterward she was cast in an important role in The Home Towners, which George M. Cohan produced in August of that year. Over the next six years Peg performed in ten Broadways plays in such Theatre Guild productions as Tommy, which was her longest running play. Reviewers said that Peg was “attractive in the manner of a number of other fresh ingénues.”

 

Other plays followed including The Uninvited Guest, a revival of Sherlock Holmes with William Gillette and Getting Married. Some of her plays lasted no longer than a month or two; however she always received good reviews for her performances regardless of the quality of the production.

 

In April 1927, Peg married fellow actor, Robert Keith, who was the father of Brian Keith, best known for his role in the television sit-com, Family Affair. The Keith’s toured together in several Theatre Guild plays until their divorce in 1929.

 

Peg’s final Broadway play was in J.M. Barrie’s, Alice-Sit-by-the-Fire in March 1932. The production starred the popular actress, Laurette Taylor whose alcoholism caused her to miss several performances and forcing producers to end the play several weeks early.

 

In May, Peg was brought to Los Angeles to costar with Billie Burke and Humphrey Bogart in the Romney Brent play, The Mad Hopes at the Belasco Theatre. The play opened to rave reviews with standing-room-only audiences. One reviewer commented:

 

“…Belasco and Curran have staged the new play most effectively and have endowed this Romney Brent opus with every distinction of cast and direction. …costumes and settings are of delightful quality, and every detail makes the production one entirely fit for its translation to the New York stage. In the cast Peg Entwistle and Humphrey Bogart hold first place in supporting the star (Billie Burke) and both give fine, serious performances. Miss Entwistle as the earnest, young daughter (Geneva Hope) of a vague mother and presents a charming picture of youth…”

 

When the play closed, Peg was preparing to return to New York when she was offered a screen test at RKO. On June 13, 1932 she signed a contract to appear in Thirteen Women where she is billed ninth in the opening credits. The film starred Irene Dunne and Myrna Loy as a half-caste fortune teller’s assistant motivated by revenge against the bigoted schoolgirls who tormented her in school years earlier.

 

The film received poor reviews and negative comments from preview audiences. The Los Angeles Times said of the preview: “…its picturization is an utterly implausible tale of mediocre worth.” The premiere was delayed and the film was edited to reduce its running time, significantly cutting back Peg’s screen time. Once it premiered after Peg’s death, one reviewer called it “a dreadful mess of a picture with more defects, deficiencies and lapses than any offering since Chandu the Magician.”

 

 Peg Entwistle’s home at 2428 Beachwood Drive

(this is a private residence; please do not disturb the occupants)

 

 

 The sidewalk in front of Peg Entwistle’s home on Beachwood Drive where she took her last walk

 

 

RKO did not option Peg’s contract and she was broke and could not return to New York. She tried finding roles on both the local stage and at the film studios but nothing was available. On Friday evening, September 16, 1932, Peg told her uncle she was going to walk to the local drugstore and then visit friends. Instead, she walked up Beachwood past Hollywoodland and then hiked up the side of Mount Lee to the Hollywoodland sign. There she most likely wrote her suicide note, took off her coat and shoe, and climbed a maintenance ladder behind the letter H and, at some point, jumped to her death.

 

The coroner determined that death was due to internal bleeding caused by “multiple fractures to the pelvis.” Her Episcopal funeral service was conducted on September 20 at the W. M. Strother Mortuary at 6240 Hollywood Boulevard (demolished). Her body was cremated at Hollywood Cemetery and held in storage until December 29 when her ashes were sent to Oak Hill Cemetery in Glendale, Ohio for burial with her father on January 5, 1933. Her grave is unmarked.

 

 The burial card at Oak Hill Cemetery where Peg Entwistle’s ashes were interred. H Milton Ross was the father of Peg’s stepmother, Lauretta. (Photo courtesy of Scott Michaels)

 

 

Peg Entwistle was buried with her father at Oak Hill Cemetery in Glendale, Ohio. Their grave is unmarked. (Photo courtesy of Scott Michaels) 

 

 

Some sources claim that shortly after Peg’s death, she received a letter from the Beverly Hills Community Players, offering her a role in a play where her character commits suicide. Since this tale was related in Kenneth Anger’s “Hollywood Babylon II,” the veracity of it is questionable. Other false claims made by Anger are that Peg jumped from the last letter D because it was the thirteenth letter and she associated it with the film Thirteen Women. He also wrote that she was the first of other “disillusioned starlets” who followed her lead and committed suicide from the sign; this is not true. Peg Entwistle is the only confirmed suicide from that famous Hollywood landmark.

 

 

Click below to watch Peg Entwistle’s appearance in Thirteen Women (1932)

 

 

 

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Hollywood sign given a reprieve

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Apr 14th, 2010
2010
Apr 14

HOLLYWOOD NEWS

Hollywood sign supporters get 16 more days to reaise funds to buy nearby land

 

 

Preservationists fighting to protect 138-acres of land near the Hollywood sign have been granted a reprieve.

 

They will have 16 more days to raise the $12.5 million needed to purchase the land from a group of Chicago investors. The deadline for the sale was Wednesday, but the owners agreed to extend it until April 30, according to Los Angeles City Council Member Tom LaBonge.

 

The owners, Fox River Financial Resources Inc., bought the land from Howard Hughes’ estate in 2002 for $1.7 million. They put it up for sale two years ago. The property is zoned to build four luxury homes.

 

LaBonge said $11 million has already been raised, and $1.5 million is still needed to purchase land. Two donors stepped forward Wednesday to help the effort.

 

Philanthropist Aileen Getty and the Tiffany & Co. Foundation said they would donate a $500,000 matching grant if the community raised $1 million. Getty and the Tiffany Foundation each previously donated $1 million to the campaign.

 

Over the weekend, supporters held a fundraiser at Lake Hollywood Park.

 

– Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times

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The Hollywood sign’s history

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Feb 14th, 2010
2010
Feb 14

HOLLYWOOD HISTORY

The story of the Hollywood sign

 

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger
February 14, 2010

 

The Hollywood Sign has recently been in the news because of developers attempts to build condominiums on nearby Cahuenga Peak. A move is on to raise money to buy the land and turn it over to the city of Los Angeles to become a part of Griffith Park and thus save the pristine view from the flats of Hollywood. To aid its case, the sign has been covered to read, “Save the Peak.”

 

The Hollywood Sign has had a remarkable and turbulent history and has endured its share of problems, including a suicide leap from the H, squabbles over who should maintain it, markings from mountain-climbing spray painters, hassles among community groups about its worth, and several threats over the years to tear it down.

 

The sign has been a major part of the local scenery for more than 86 years, longer than most city landmarks such as Grauman’s Chinese, City Hall, the Shrine Auditorium and UCLA. It even predates Mulholland Drive and is decades older than any freeway.

 

As most know, the Hollywood sign is the remnant of an advertisement for a 640-acre real-estate development. When it was erected in 1923 the sign said HOLLYWOODLAND, the name of the housing development on the slope just below it. The sign, however, was an afterthought.

 

As with many Hollywood origins, the sign’s beginnings also have more than one version. The one I chose for this article goes as follows:

 

 

In the spring of 1923, John Roche, a 26 year-old advertising and promotional man, was working on a brochure for the Hollywoodland subdivision. He had drawn in proposed home sites, streets and equestrian trails. Behind them, on the side of Mt. Lee, he had penciled in HOLLYWOODLAND.

 

When Roche arrived at the office of one of the project’s developers, Harry Chandler, then publisher of the Los Angeles Times, with the drawing, Roche says Chandler liked the idea and wanted to know if Roche could actually put up a sign that could be seen all over Los Angeles.

 

To get a good perspective, Roche went to Wilshire Boulevard, then a little, partially asphalted road, to see if he could see the mountain from there. Roche took photographs and then made drawings of the Hollywood hill. Roche determined that each letter would have to be 50 feet high to be visible from that distance. When he reported to Chandler that such a sign would be seen that far, the project began.

 

“I made a sketch almost that big,” Roche explained in 1977. “I took it to Mr. Chandler’s office about 11 one night – he sat in his office until midnight every night and would talk to anybody – and he said, ‘Go ahead and do it.’ We didn’t have engineers or anything. We just put it up.”

 

 

As Roche had determined, each individual letter was made 50 feet high and 30 feet wide. They were put together on metal panels, each three-by-nine-feet, and painted white. The next step was attaching the panels to a framework that consisted of wires, scaffolding and telephone poles, which were brought up the steep hillside by mules.

 

Fifty to 100 laborers dug the holes with pick axes and shovels. An access road was completed so the enormous sheet metal letters could be brought in. The sign was built in about 60 days at a cost of $21,000, Roche said. “I think we built it faster than you could today (1984).” Roche recalled the sign being lighted, but insisted there were not lights on the original HOLLYWOODLAND. “That came sometime later,” he said.

 

Regardless, at some point the sign was illuminated at night by a series of 4,000 20-watt bulbs that were evenly spaced around the outside edge of each letter. This required the services of a caretaker, Albert Kothe, who lived in a cabin behind the first “L” and maintained the sign and its lighting system. To replace burned out bulbs, Kothe would climb onto the framework behind each letter, new light bulbs tucked in his shirt.

 

Since it was planned to promote real-estate, it was not designed to survive the sale of the last lot. Public sentiment, however, led to keeping the sign long after its commercial function was over.

 

During the sign’s heyday, many stars bought homes in Hollywoodland. The highest lot above the sign was sold to comedy producer Mack Sennett, but he never built there. Sennett did use the sign, though, to pose bathing beauties between the O’s for publicity stills.

 

There have been rumors of several suicides from the sign, especially during the Depression years, but the only acknowledged one occurred in 1932, when a young actress named Peg Entwistle, who came to Hollywood from the Broadway stage the previous year, jumped to her death from the H.

 

In 1939, the lights were extinguished when the maintenance fund was discontinued by the realtors. It’s rumored that all 4,000 bulbs were stolen.

 

In 1945 the development company that owned it donated the sign and the land surrounding it to the city’s Recreation and Parks Commission as an adjunct parcel to Griffith Park. The sign by this point had been neglected and vandalized for several years.

 

The “H” falls down after a storm (LAPL) 

 

In January 1949 the H blew down in a windstorm, and nearby residents complained that the sign was a hazard and an eyesore. On January 6, the Recreation and Parks Commission announced that the sign would be torn down. They denied a request of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce to alter and repair the sign to read Hollywood.

 

Several days later, Councilman Lloyd G. Davies (who represented Hollywood) introduced a resolution before the City Council that the Chamber of Commerce would repair the sign, at an estimated cost of $5,000, furnish bond to guarantee its maintenance and provide the city with proper liability coverage, if the parks commission would consent. Davies said his district was sensitive about becoming known as “ollywood.”

 

The parks commission later reversed its decision and allowed the first nine letters to be repaired and cut down the last four, to read HOLLYWOOD, therefore transforming it from a commercial display into a community one.

 

By the early 1960s, weather again had taken a strong toll on the sign’s condition. At a cost of $4,500, it was restored by the Kiwanis. At irregular intervals, several civic groups and the metal facing repainted, but little structural maintenance was done.

 

In 1973, the city once again threatened to tear down the sign. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and local radio station, KABC began a campaign to “Save the Sign,” hoping to solicit $15,000 from the public to finance structural repairs, replacement of fallen facing panels and a fresh coat of paint. That same year, the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Board designated it a monument, thus giving it dignity but no money.

 

One woman sent the repair fund a large check with a note: “My little girl in 1925 learned to spell from the sign.” Another recalled a proposal of marriage made to her in 1944 up near the sign; she “foolishly” rejected it but wondered how many accepted proposals were made there. A third woman calculated that if “All the couples who parked up there sent in $1, there would be more than enough.” Fortunately the campaign was successful and the sign received a facelift and a reprieve — but it wouldn’t last for long.

 

On January 1, 1976, several young men, to mark the change in the marijuana law in California, masked the OOs with EEs made from white sheets. It read HOLLYWEED for a day.

 

Just a year later, in January 1977, the D became wobbly because of recent rainstorms and there was concern about how long it would stay in place. Up close, the sign creaked and rattled, even in a light wind. Its timbers were rotting. Sheet metal, rusted and corroded, fell from its face and loose securing cables dangled from some of the 50-foot high letters.

 

It was estimated that a replacement sign would go as high as $120,000. To generate interest in preserving the sign, a press conference was held at the base of the sign with invitations sent out accompanied by a snake bite kit.

 

The chamber hoped to use money raised in 1975 by KIIS radio station to do some cosmetic work on the landmark. “But the sign is in such bad shape it will do us no good to raise small amounts of money,” said Michael Sims, executive director of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. “We’re either going to lose it or take care of it. That’s going to be up to Hollywood. What we really need now is a guardian angel.”

 

A few months later, in April 1977, the sign was altered to read HOLYWOOD for Easter Sunrise service, viewable from the Hollywood Bowl.

 

The Hollywood sign in 1978 (LAPL)

 

The following winter, the final blow came as wind and heavy rainstorms once again took a toll on the sign. The top of the first O fell off, the Y buckled inward toward the hillside, and the last O collapsed completely.

 

A campaign was established once again to “Save the Sign.” Eventually, after several efforts to raise money was not sufficient, nine donors came forward, each choosing a letter, and contributed $27,777 each. The donors included: (H) newspaper publisher, Terrance Donnelly; (O) Italian movie producer, Giovanni Mazza; (L) Les Kelly (Kelly Blue Book); (L) Gene Autry; (Y) Hugh Heffner; (W) Andy Williams; (O) Warner Bros. Records; (O) Alice Cooper, in memory of Groucho Marx; (D) Dennis Lidtke.

 

The new letters were made of steel, and was unveiled on Hollywood’s 75th anniversary, November 14, 1978.

 

Caltech students pose for photo after altering the Hollywood sign (LAPL)

 

Over the following years unauthorized alterations have been made to the sign. In July 1987, it was changed to OLLYWOOD, (Ollie North) during the Iran-Contra hearings. During the Gulf War it read OIL WAR and in 1993, 20 members of UCLA’s Theta-Chi fraternity changed it to GO UCLA. They were charged with trespassing and this prompted the installation of a security system featuring video surveillance and motion detection. However, it didn’t prevent another institution of learning to alter it to CALTECH ten years later.

 

That brings us to the recent alteration of SAVE THE PEAK, to help raise money to purchase the 138-acre parcel to the west of the sign on Cahuenga Peak, preventing possible development that would permanently spoil the view. The land would become part of Griffith Park.

 

For more information on how to help, go to: http://www.savehollywoodland.org/

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