Bill Mack painted the classic film images on the rusted metal and restored the H of the original sign.
History and Future of the Original Hollywood Sign
By Chris Harris
HollywoodLand,CA(Hollywood Today)9/14/12/- The most coveted of all Hollywood treasures that represented the history of the entertainment industry, was the original Hollywood Sign. It was the sign that every actor touched and wished upon a star. It was the sign that James Dean sat and stared at and then shouted from atop the mountain, he was going to take Hollywood by storm, and he did. It was the sign that inspired Marilyn Monroe to write, “I used to think as I looked at the Hollywood night. There must be thousands of girls sitting alone like me, dreaming of becoming a movie star. But I’m not going to worry about them. I’m dreaming the hardest.” It was the sign that moved Walt Disney to utter “There is only one Statue of Liberty and only one Hollywood Sign.”
The old sign, the original sign, that once heralded Hollywoodland selling homes in the hills in the early 1920’s that later became just Hollywood, guided fame and fortune to a legion of men and women from faraway places with strange sounding names, began to slowly fall apart, the years as a beacon of weaving dreams had taken their toll. The letters were worn and weakened by time and struggled to maintain their dignity. The old sign, the original sign, cried out for someone, anyone, to rescue the iconic symbol that spawned an entertainment industry.
One day men with hard hats arrived atop the mountain, where James Dean shouted; as he stared at that old sign he was going to take Hollywood by storm. The men in hard hats hammered away and slowly dismantled the old sign, the original sign and loaded the fragile and richest piece of Hollywood history onto a flatbed truck and drove the symbol of a thousand stories to a warehouse someplace in the District of Hollywood, where the old sign, the original sign languished for over thirty five years in the darkness of a forgotten day.
Then one day a sculptor, in fact the world’s leading relief sculptor Bill Mack who paid tribute to James Dean and Marilyn Monroe in bonded sand and bronze received a piece of the metal from the old sign the original sign. The rusted piece of the old sign, the original sign sat for days outside the entrance to Bill Mack’s studio in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Then one day Bill Mack picked up the piece of the old sign, the original sign and painted the image of Jean Harlow on the rusted dented metal that was once the Hollywood Sign. It was that act that inspired Bill Mack to rescue the old sign the original Hollywood sign from the darkness of a forgotten day.
The old sign, the original sign once thought to have been hauled away for scrap metal is alive and well in the images of John Wayne, Greta Garbo, Shirley Temple, John Wayne, Rita Hayworth, Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Audrey Hepburn and a host of others on the rusted metal of the old sign, the original Hollywood Sign carefully and lovingly painted by the world’s leading relief sculptor Bill Mack. It was during the period of portraying the images of the great film stars on original Hollywood Sign that Bill Mack decided to restore and forever preserve the H the most hallowed letter of the original Hollywood Sign.
Councilman Tom LaBonge on behalf of the City of Los Angeles honored Bill Mack for reviving the most vital artifact of Hollywood’s hundred twenty-five year history that being the H of the old sign the original Hollywood Sign. Bill Mack the sculptor, the artist wants to share his work in the restoration of the H of the original Hollywood Sign with the world. Councilman Tom LaBonge is working with Bill Mack to secure a sponsor to allow the restored H of the original Hollywood Sign to tour the United States and perhaps some cities around the world.
When the touring is done Councilman Tom LaBonge would like to see a Yellow Brick Road built to the H someplace in his District of Hollywood where the appreciation of the artifact can be realized by the local population and people around the world. Bill Mack has agreed to relinquish ownership when the right company or corporation decides to purchase the artifact and leave it in Hollywood.
In 1923, a prominent group of investors prepared to develop a residential neighborhood called Hollywoodland. Among the investors were Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler and movie director Mack Sennett. To promote the development, Chandler hired contractor George Roche to build the world’s largest sign. The letters of the sign spelled “HOLLYWOODLAND”. The sign was built with telephone poles and barn roofing at a cost of $21,000.00. Holes were punched through the sign to help relieve stress caused by wind. Although it was intended to last for only two years, the sign survived to become a beloved part of American History.
For many years, the Hollywoodland sign was visible at night. Its edges were lit by more than 4,000 light bulbs, which were maintained daily by Albert Kothe. In order to do this job, Kothe lived in a tiny shack behind the first letter L.
In 1923, a successful Broadway actress named Lillian “Peg” Entwistle committed suicide by leaping from atop the letter H. She had become depressed because she was unable to find roles on the west coast. Ironically, just after her death, her uncle received a letter offering Peg the lead role in a play about a girl that commits suicide. According to legend, her ghost still haunts the sign.
The M.H. Sherman Company, also known as the Hollywoodland Development Company, quitclaimed the rights to the sign and 455 surrounding acres to the City of Los Angeles in 1944, thereby attaching it to Griffith Park.
In 1949, the City of Los Angeles entered into a maintenance agreement with the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce to preserve the sign. The last four letters were removed, and, for the first time, the sign simply spelled “HOLLYWOOD”.
The entertainment industry expanded dramatically throughout the 1950′s 1960′s. During this period, the Hollywood sign became internationally recognized through its exposure in films, television, commercials, and the media. The sign’s prominence and historical significance led the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Board to designate the Hollywood sign as a landmark in 1973. It was labeled as Cultural Historical Monument #111 by the board.
Throughout the 1970′s, the Hollywood sign deteriorated badly. By 1978, the third O had fallen over, and the sign could no longer be repaired. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce launched the “Save the Sign” campaign with the help of several celebrities. None donors each sponsored a new letter to cover the cost of rebuilding the sign. The donors included Hugh Hefner, Gene Autry, Andy Williams, Alice Cooper and others. Over $250,000.00 was raised. Interestingly, Alice Cooper made his honor of Groucho Marx.
Hal Brown Jr., of the Pacific Outdoor Advertising Company, was contracted to rebuild the sign. The Hollywood sign was very personal to Brown because his uncle, George Roche, had built the original sign in 1923. Brown hired Cornelius Van Dam as the engineer responsible for designing the new Hollywood sign. Van Dam designed the new sign with a more durable structure, but the same dimensions as the original. The plans were approved by the City of Los Angeles, the Cultural Heritage Board, and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. The original, legendary Hollywood sign was taken down and construction of the replica sign began in August 1978. The new sign was unveiled in November 1978.
The original Hollywood sign was placed in a storage facility after it was taken down. No one was aware that the company hired to remove the sign had understood its historical significance and elected to store it rather than dispose of it as was planned. The sign remained in storage until it was purchased by noted collector of rare and unusual memorabilia, and renouned artist, Bill Mack in 2007. The artist intends to use the metal facing from the sign as canvas on which he will paint the likenesses of the great “movie stars”from the Golden Years Of Hollywood. It is this metal that was revered by all the young actors and actresses that climbed Mount Lee to touch it and have pictures taken with it for luck, and as a right of passage into their new professions. And, it is this metal that will bring life to the legendary images that Bill Mack paints on it.
Bill Mack Art Book
Authentic Piece Of The Original
1923 HOLLYWOOD Sign Reborn As A
Five Foot “H” Work Of Art
Depicting Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell
From Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Is Up For Auction By Profiles In History
By Chris Harris
LOS ANGELES, CA(Hollywood Today)10/26/12/— Profiles in History, run by Joe Maddalena, is proud to announce that an authentic piece of the original 1923 “HOLLYWOOD” sign reborn as a five foot “H” work of art depicting Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by artist Bill Mack is going up for auction this December at Profiles in History. The piece will be a part of Profiles in History’s December 15 & 16 Hollywood Auction.
For nearly 90 years, the iconic Hollywood Sign has overlooked the birthplace of American Cinema and become a permanent cultural icon in the USA. In 1923, a prominent group of investors built the world’s largest sign for their new development property. The letters of the sign spelled “HOLLYWOODLAND”. In 1949, the City of Los Angeles agreed to preserve the sign and the last four letters were removed, and, for the first time, the sign simply spelled “HOLLYWOOD”. By 1978, the original Hollywood sign was in a state of disrepair. It was taken down and put into storage, to be replaced by the sign that stands in the Hollywood Hills today.
In 2007, renowned artist Bill Mack bought the historic sign and began infusing it with new life by transforming it into one-of-a-kind works of art. This stunning artwork, The Gentleman’s H, is a mixed media, acrylic and oil depiction of Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell from the classic film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. In its creation, three sections of the original Hollywood sign panels were first configured into a proportionally correct “H” and mounted on to metal tubing. Artwork measures 60 x 42 in. (outer frame dimensions are 68 x 50 in.) A remarkable piece of art created from one of the most recognized monuments of the 20th century, symbolizing the best from Hollywood’s Golden Age.
It is estimated to fetch $150,000 – $250,000.