The term “landmark” has been prominent in Hollywood since the early days of silent films, serving as a representation of the whole film industry.

To commemorate its centennial, a portion of the iconic Hollywood sign was illuminated on Friday, marking the first time in many years.
The nine-letter symbol is already one hundred years old, but, like many aged iconic figures in Hollywood, it appears remarkably youthful.

Similar to the performers it disdains, the sign has appeared in numerous films.

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Directors seeking to indicate the setting of a movie in Los Angeles can easily achieve this through an establishing shot, whereas a director aiming to symbolize the devastation of America can unleash their special effects crew on the sign.

In addition, the Hollywood sign has also witnessed a real-life tragedy when British-born actress Peg Entwistle tragically ended her own life by jumping from the pinnacle of the letter H in 1932.

The sign, a prominent attraction for cinephiles and tourists in Los Angeles, originally displayed the word “HOLLYWOODLAND”. It was built in 1923 as a promotional feature for a high-end real estate project.

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In its initial ten years, the structure was regularly illuminated by several lamps, sequentially illuminating the words “HOLLY”, “WOOD”, and “LAND” to serve as a symbol of the attractive residences available below.

By the 1940s, the lettering were worn and tattered.

The Los Angeles Times stated that the H had been damaged either by vandals or windstorms, prompting local residents to request the city’s intervention in demolishing it.

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, acknowledging their ownership of a highly successful trademark, intervened and proposed to rectify the situation.

However, the final four letters were removed. The purpose of the sign was to symbolize the entire town, not just a trendy area. By 1949, the sign had been restored and now only displayed the word “HOLLYWOOD”.

The 50-foot (15-meter)-high wooden lettering suffered damage from three decades of intense sunlight and sporadic storms.

Ultimately, the initial “O” was transformed into a lowercase “u” and the final “O” fully collapsed.

Alice Cooper, the influential figure in shock rock, spearheaded a drive to revive the sign to its original magnificence by generously contributing $28,000.

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Additionally, seven other individuals, like actor Gene Autry, Playboy founder Hugh Heffner, and singer Andy Williams, also contributed in the same manner by each sponsoring a letter.

The substitute letters are slightly smaller, measuring only 44 feet in height, but they are constructed from steel, while yet retaining their distinctively askew appearance.

Last year, the Hollywood Sign Trust said that the repainting conducted for its 100th anniversary utilized about 400 gallons (1,500 liters) of paint and primer.

According to Jeff Zarrinnam, the chairman of the Hollywood Sign Trust, the illumination on Friday night was simply symbolic. Only a small part of the second L was illuminated, creating a contrast with the darkness.

Contrary to the majority of prominent international monuments, the Hollywood sign is typically not illuminated during nighttime, primarily due to opposition from surrounding residents.
However, Zarrinnam suggested that it could perhaps regain its luminosity.

“We are currently developing a strategy to potentially illuminate the sign during highly significant events,” he stated.

“Los Angeles is set to host significant sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics in 2028. Given the magnitude of these events, it is likely that the Hollywood sign will be illuminated to commemorate them.”


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