In case you haven't heard the news, Hugh Hefner stepped up to the plate and kicked in the final $900,000 needed to help save the iconic Hollywood sign from the greedy plans of Chicago developers. The plan, as I understand it, was to build upscale homes behind the sign. Of course, there were other celebrities involved, Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, I believe, but ordinary citizens also joined the cause, and through bake sales and cash donations, raised the money to purchase the land behind the sign—$12.5 million was the asking price, which certainly ain't hay. It really is fantastic that so many people cared and came together for the common good. At the same time, I'm rather disheartened that the sign was ever in peril in the first place. Seriously?! What kind of filthy douchbag would ever consider it okay to desecrate a national icon—nay, a World icon like that? How much better can they, or do they need to live? Perhaps the weasels from Goldman Sachs and their ilk have the answer. I really don't understand people like that, and I'm not sure I even want to.
I think it would be best for me to move on, and focus on the history of the sign before I go off on one of my legendary tirades about greed and evil. The original lighted sign read: HOLLYWOODLAND, and was erected in 1923 to advertise a new housing development of the same name. It was never intended to be permanent, but in time, the district became known as Hollywood, the movie capital of the World. The first refurbishment came in 1949 when the LAND part was removed to reflect the district instead of the housing development, and the lights were also removed at this time. By the late 70's the sign had again crumbled into such a terrible state of disrepair, that it actually looked as though it said: HULLYWO D. A new sturdier version was financed by celebrities, such as Alice Copper and Hugh Hefner, sponsoring individual letters, which is what we see today. You can read more about the history of the sign here on Wikipedia.
In closing, I found this neat little video clip, which appears to be from a tourist on vacation in 1932, and features the original version of the sign. It isn't anything mind blowing or spectacular, but it is a small glimpse of life in a simpler time.