The Hollywood sign was meant to be a temporary advertisement for a new housing tract, but it evolved into the most famous sign in the world. The landmark (it was named City of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #111 in 1973) has been modified, vandalized, allowed to deteriorate, completely replaced, and left out in the rain for more than 90 years, but it continues to endure.
Historian Bruce Torrence, whose grandfather Charles E. Toberman built the Chinese, Egyptian, and El Capitan theaters and was dubbed “The Father of Hollywood,” spent months researching the long history of the sign and created an incredibly thorough timeline at his new website Hollywood Sign History. His 11,000-word treatise includes a look back on the suicide of Peg Entwistle, the mystery of the “white dot,” and the star-studded 1970s party at the Playboy Mansion that ultimately helped save the sign. Before you grab some popcorn and dig into Torrence’s epic saga, we present a brief visual history of the Hollywood Sign.