The famous Hollywood sign is safe.
And you probably didn’t even know it was at risk.
It turns out that a group of Chicago investors had planned to build luxury homes near the landmark, which would have obstructed its view.
Los Angeles’ Trust for Public Land was able to raise money, thanks in part to a major donation from Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner, to buy the hilltop on which the sign sits. The total price: $12.5 million.
It’s the second time Hefner has stepped in with big bucks to save this particular icon.
The sign was first erected in 1923 as a unique way to advertise a new housing development called Hollywoodland. In 1949, the word Land was removed, but the sign, already twenty-six years old, was starting to deteriorate.
By 1978, with some letters either broken or missing entirely, it was in such need of repair that a fundraising effort was begun for restoration. Hefner was one of nine who donated $27,777 to sponsor a letter for restoration.
During my trip to Hollywood back in 1997, the big sign was definitely one of the sites that I looked for. We didn’t get close to the sign itself, but we were in Hollywood at CBS Television City, and we got a nice view of the sign standing outside the studio on a rooftop basketball court that Craig Kilborn had reportedly installed during his tenure on The Late Late Show.
Hollywood wouldn’t be the same without the Hollywood sign.