What do you think of when you think of Hollywood? Glamour… movie stars… premieres… red carpets… big movie studios… paparazzi… ?
Occasionally you will see a movie premiere at the Chinese Theatre, and on a Friday night it’s not a stretch to see paparazzi driving around with cameras attached to a car or two.
Beyond this, most of the movie studios are in Burbank, and the main Hollywood strip is a rather dark and seedy place. Once you step outside the tourist boundaries (Chinese Theatre, Kodak Theatre, and the main walk of fame) you find stories ripe with tragedy and oddities in every nook and cranny.
Take the Hollywood sign above. It’s the image that most people associate with Hollywood but in recent years it’s come pretty close to disappearing. It was Hugh Hefner and other celebrities/businessmen who donated money to keep the sign and surrounding land from becoming luxury mansions. The sign used to light up at night — but with a 2005 reconstruction, the lights were removed and replaced by a fresh coat of white paint.
The most famous story about the Hollywood sign comes from September 16, 1932, when a distraught actress named Peg Entwistle jumped from the “H” of the Hollywoodland sign to her death in the ravine below. Her ghost is thought to appear for hikers and rangers in Griffith Park.
Peg’s body was cremated and placed next to the body of her father in an unmarked grave Glendale, Ohio. There it stayed anonymously until September 16, 2010 (the 78th anniversary of her death), when a charity drive on Facebook raised the funds needed to add a stone marker to her final resting place.