5 Fun Facts About The Hollywood Sign

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5 Fun Facts About The Hollywood Sign

The Hollywood Sign is as much an American Icon as the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, Caesars Palace, and the Kardashians. It’s instantly recognizable and featured in pop culture all of the time.  Here in Los Angeles, we may take it for granted a little bit. It’s just a part of the Hollywood Hills landscape. 

There’s actually a whole lot of history behind the sign and some of it may be surprising to you. We put our study caps on and did some digging. Here are some of the fun facts we found: 

Four Letters Have Been Removed From The Sign

Like the rest of the United State, the Hollywood sign fell into hard times during The Great Depression, and maintenance on the sign ceased. The “H” even toppled over at one point but of course, that was not one of the letters that was permanently removed. In the 1940s the city of Los Angeles was given ownership of the sign and apparently, the Parks & Rec department wanted to get rid of it! Leslie Knope would never

Luckily, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce stepped in and restored the sign – in doing so they removed four letters: L, A, N, D. That’s right the sign used to read “Hollywoodland” – and technically “Ollywoodland” during the Great Depression, but we don’t talk about that. 

It was Created as a Real Estate Advertisement

The reason behind the “Hollywoodland” sign is simple. An advertisement.


That’s right, Ralphie. In 1923, Harry Chandler, publisher of the Los Angeles times decided it was a great time to invest in an upscale housing development. (Spoiler Alert: It was not). He wanted to capitalize on the growing recognition of Hollywood as a movie town. His marketing had to be flashy, so he spent $250,000 on 45ft white letters that read Hollywoodland. The letters were illuminated by hundreds of lightbulbs which would illuminate Holly, then wood, then land on a loop all night long. Classy stuff. 

It Was Replaced in the 1970s

All good things must come to an end, even the original Hollywood sign. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce tried their best to restore the sign in 1949, they really did, but it continued to deteriorate – at one point one of the “O”s took a tumble down the mountain. This wasn’t helped by the fact that arsonists tried to light the sign on fire which took out the bottom of the “L”. In 1978, a hero stepped forward to fund a replacement…

That’s right. Mr. Hugh Hefner himself. Not all heroes wear capes folks, some wear robes. 

Hefner and eight other donors, including rockstar Alice Cooper, attended a gala at the Playboy mansion and pledged $28k each to help fund the project. Hollywood went three months without the sign, making it difficult for some residents and visitors to know where they were, but in 1978, the new sign was complete. The new Hollywood sign is much more structurally sound and receives regular maintenance and fresh coat of white paint. 

Directors Like To Destroy It In Movies

They really like it. 

Of course, the Hollywood Sign shows its beautiful face in movies all the time but some of those times, it gets absolutely decimated. 

  • Earthquake (1974), an earthquake causes all of the signs letters to fall and they do it in the most dramatic way. One by one. Truly an Oscar-worthy performance by the Hollywood Sign. 
  • Superman (1978), another earthquake causes the sign to bend.
  •  1941 (1979), a pilot takes out all his frustrations on the sign and shoots it up.
  • The Rocketeer (1991), an evil villain with a faulty rocket pack smashes right into it.
  •  Escape from L.A. (1996),  it catches fire much as the previously mentioned arsonists were hoping for.
  • Mighty Joe Young (1998), the gorilla tears off an “O” and just tosses it. 
  • The Day After Tomorrow (2004), as you can see in the picture above, a tornado just eviscerates it
  • Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010), for an unspecified reason a zombie apocalypse leaves the sign in tatters.

They Almost Built Houses All Around It

What a different landscape that would be! The reason we don’t see luxury homes up there is because actress Ginger Rogers broke up with her business tycoon beau, Howard Hughs. He had planned to build them a mansion on the 138-acres of land that he had purchased by the famous sign. Heartbroken and alone, he abandoned the idea and nothing happened with the land until 70 years later when it was sold to an investment firm.

Movie studios, actors, investors, and of course Hugh Hefner, raised enough money to purchase the land, prevent houses from being built, and now it is protected parkland. 

Pretty interesting stuff, right? We would also be remiss not to add that some of our apartments at Beachwood Towers have their own private balcony view of the legendary Hollywood Sign. #HumbleBrag

If you’re interested in taking a look or finding out more, book a showing with us today!

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