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Hollywood Facts

The iconic signpost of the US Movie Industry

  • Harvey and Daeida Wilcox owned a ranch called Hollywood where the modern-day Mecca of entertainment stands!
  • The first movie to be made in Hollywood was 'In Old California' in 1910. This was a 17-minute short film by legendary director D. W. Griffith, who was also responsible for the groundbreaking 'Birth Of A Nation.'
  • Prior to 1910, there were no movie theaters in the Hollywood district--because they were banned!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 4,000 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.
  • 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.
  • The sign had its very own caretaker. The real estate developers hired Albert Kothe to act as caretaker.
  • 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.
  • The Hollywoodland sign went dark in 1939. The stock market crash of 1929 and the subsequent Depression during the 1930’s halted real estate development.
  • The sign was hit by a car. You might not think that a sign perched on the side of a steep hill would be in danger of being hit by a car. But one night, Albert Kothe had a little too much too drink. He drove his 1928 Ford station wagon right off the cliff just above the sign. The car rolled down the hill, smashing into the “H.” Luckily, Albert was OK, but both the Ford and the “H” were destroyed.
  • The sign was almost torn down completely in 1949. In 1944 the city of Los Angeles purchased 455 acres from the Hollywoodland developers, including the land on which the Hollywoodland sign sat. The city didn’t necessarily want a huge real estate billboard, but they let the sign sit there for another five years until they decided to tear it down. But residents who had come to love the sign protested its removal.
  • The Hollywood sign is an official landmark. By 1973, the sign was seriously deteriorated again, broken-down and rusty. The city slapped another coat of paint on it and also declared it “L.A. Cultural and Historical Monument #111.”
  • In the 1970’s, the sign went to pot. On January 1, 1976, prankster Danny Finegood hung curtains over the last two “O’s” in the sign, changing it to read “HOLLYWEED” to commemorate the introduction of a more relaxed marijuana law in California.
  • The Hollywood sign has almost as much security as Fort Knox. In order to keep people away from the sign and keep the sign from being vandalized, a specially-designed security system was developed. The Department of Homeland Security even got involved… that’s how serious L.A. is about protecting its iconic sign. The security involves razor wire, infrared technology, 24 hour monitoring, motion sensors, alarms and helicopter patrols.
  • The sign has its very own trust fund. The Hollywood Sign Trust was created in 1992 for the purpose of maintaining and promoting the Hollywood sign.
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