Los Angeles’s most famous real estate sign, the infamous “Hollywood” sign atop Cahuenga Peak, was finally saved once again this week by Hugh Hefner (yes, THAT Hugh Hefner). Speaking from the Mansion (yes, THAT mansion), Hefner said he was moved by his love for Los Angeles, its rich history, and his love of entertainment and the movies. “The sign, for me, is our Eiffel tower, representing everything Los Angeles stands for. My childhood dreams and fantasies came from the movies, and the images created in Hollywood had a major influence on my life and Playboy.”
This is the second time Hefner has come to the sign’s rescue. In 1972, when the dilapidated wooden sign faced destruction, Hefner and friends raised $250,000 to repair the sign, and dedicated the letter “Y” to Hefner for his efforts. This time, a single donation of $900,000 by Hefner, closing the gap to the total 12.5 million needed, will get him a dedication of the letter “H”.
The sign, created as an advertisement in 1923, originally read “HOLLYWOODLAND”. Its purpose was to advertise the name of a new housing development in the hills above the Hollywood district of Los Angeles, but garnered increasing recognition after the development was sold out. Real estate developers Woodruff and Shoults called their development “Hollywoodland” and advertised it as a “superb environment without excessive cost on the Hollywood side of the hills”
The sign was a frequent target of pranks and vandalism but has since undergone restoration, including a security system to deter vandalism. The sign is protected and promoted by the Hollywood Sign Trust, a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to physically maintain, repair and secure the sign, to educate the world about its historical and cultural importance, and to raise the funds necessary to accomplish these projects.
From the ground, the contours of the hills give the sign its well-known “wavy” appearance. When observed at a comparable altitude, the letters appear straight-across.
The campaign to save Cahuenga Peak, home of the famous Hollywood Sign, is one that symbolizes something that the world cherishes and celebrates. The Hollywood Sign is more than just a sign, it is a universal representation of the film and entertainment industry, and the mountain itself is an oasis of California’s nature.
“It’s the Hollywood ending we all hoped for,” says Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The permanent protection of Cahuenga Peak is a significant addition to the city’s Griffith Park and will enhance wildlife corridors throughout the region.