The History of the Sign: The Hollywood Sign Today
Hollywood’s civic restoration, which began in the 1970′s, picked up steam in the ensuing decades, fueled by a growing reverence for what the industry had come to represent worldwide.
The Sign has always served as a barometer for the community; and as Hollywood re-blossomed, so too did the Sign, which benefited from a range of new preservation efforts.
In 1992, the California Attorney General granted distinct legal rights and responsibilities to three official agencies – the City of Los Angeles (which owns the land the Sign stands on), the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce (which owns the licensing rights for the Sign’s image), and the Hollywood Sign Trust (formed to maintain, repair and provide capital improvements to the Sign for the benefit of the public – with the larger mission of helping to preserve Hollywood’s standing as the worldwide center of motion pictures and cinema arts).
Thanks to the Trust’s efforts, the Sign got a fresh new paint job in 1995, courtesy of Dutch Boy Paints, during a ceremony hosted, appropriately enough, by Phyllis Diller (the ‘queen of facelifts’).
On December 31, 1999, the Sign was the site of the West Coast’s highest-profile “Y2K” celebration, ringing in the new millennium with a dazzling display of lights and special effects.
The Sign was featured alongside the Eiffel Tower, the Great Pyramids of Egypt, and New York’s Times Square during global millennium countdown TV coverage. The erstwhile real estate billboard continued its place among the world’s most revered landmarks.
In 2000 the Hollywood Sign Trust hired Panasonic to install a state-of-the-art security system comprised of a vast closed circuit surveillance network, and Internet-based surveillance (which can viewed live on this very website). The system, which is monitored 24/7 to protect the Sign and it neighbors from unwanted visitors and the danger of fire, was upgraded with new technologies in 2005.
In 2004 the Sign celebrated its 80th birthday at a gala celebration hosted by movie musical legend Esther Williams (another remarkably preserved octogenarian). The ‘birthday party’ was held during the opening ceremonies for the AFIFest – which was sponsored in part by the Trust. In mid-2005, the Sign ‘went into makeup’ once again, and received another new sparkling white paint job, this time courtesy of Bay Cal Painting and Construction.
In 2010, thirty-two years after the Sign was rebuilt, the Sign’s #1 fan, Hugh Hefner, presented the Hollywood Sign Trust with the closing gift to ‘Save the Peak,’ capping efforts to raise funds to purchase and protect the 138 endangered acres behind the Hollywood Sign. Thanks to Mr. Hefner’s contribution, grants from The Tiffany & Co. Foundation and Aileen Getty, along with contributions from Hollywood leaders and fans around the world, the view that is inseparable from this cultural landmark will be protected.
Poised and polished for this millennium, the Hollywood Sign continues to inspire moviemakers and fans around the world, while playing a vital role in keeping the town it helped put on the map at the center of the global entertainment industry.
Through the years – from its splashy real estate billboard roots, to its long neglect and decay, to its current status as a revered international landmark – the Sign has emerged more symbolically powerful than ever. It conjures an ever-expanding parade of images, desires and ideas with just nine simple letters:
H – O – L – L – Y – W – O – O – D