Wednesday, November 17, 2004
The Hollywood Sign Part 1
In 1923 a real estate developer erected the Hollywood Sign on the top of Mt. Lee overlooking the city of Hollywood.
The Hollywood Sign is still there today, but has gone through many changes over the years.
The sign was actually originally a marketing ploy for the Hollywoodland Real Estate company. It was sort of a giant billboard.
In fact, it was considered the WORLD'S LARGEST SIGN.
Today, the world's largest sign is Fred Sine of Toledo Ohio. Fred weighs over 650 lbs. He is very sensitive about it, so if you see him- DON'T MENTION HIS WEIGHT! I prefer to pretend there is something in my eye and then run away.
Then, I stop running because at 650 lbs., it is unlikely he could catch up with me if I was moonwalking away.
Oh, that Fred! What a card.
The sign originally read 'Hollywoodland' and was only designed to last a few years. It had been put together from giant sheets of roofing metal with holes punched into it to cut down wind resistance.
Originally the sign was lit up at night with THOUSANDS of light bulbs. In fact, there was a man who lived in a small house behind the sign whose job was to replace the lights that burned out on a daily basis.
Today that man lives on the lot at Disney studios where his job is to draw a light bulb over Donald Duck's head every time Donald has an idea.
In 1949 the sign and the land surrounding it was given to the city of Hollywood. The letters 'L-A-N-D' were taken down and the sign received some repairs. Still, time was not kind to the sign and by the 1970's it was in bad shape.
When the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce approached Rock Legend Alice Cooper, asking him to sign T-Shirts to help raise money for a new sign, Alice suggested a better way to replace the sign. For $28,000 anyone could sponsor a letter.
At the press conference on Sunset Boulevard, Alice wore a shirt spelling his name in iron-on letters. After he spoke, he ripped off one of the ‘O’s, and said he was giving his O to the sign, which was missing one.
City officials then explained to him that an iron-on letter would be much too small and that he would have to give the $28,000 to buy a real letter.
Then, one of the officials joked "You should have given the 'A', then your name would be Lice."
Alice laughed and said "There is no 'I' in 'TEAM' and no 'A' in 'Hollywood.'" Then he bit the man on the neck and drank his blood before flying back to his crypt.
Other donors included Hugh Hefner, Gene Autry and Andy Williams.
The new sign is much sturdier, weighing 480,000 pounds. The sign sits in 194 tons of concrete and is made of sheet metal.
The old sign, however, is making a comeback.
After it was taken down, the original sign was sold to a private collector and put into a large warehouse. The collector, Hank Berger, had sold a few thousand small pieces of the sign back in the 1970s. After that he put the whole thing into a warehouse.
Recently, the sign was sold to a producer named Don Bliss. This weekend Bliss put large sections of the sign on eBay. The bidding is in the thousands for each of the five pieces.
I am saving my money to buy a piece of Fred.
COMING SOON PART 2:
The Ghost of the Hollywood Sign!