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Hollywood sign's appearance will once again be letter-quality

The iconic sign — which read 'Hollywoodland' until 1949, the year of its first face-lift — is set to undergo its most extensive refurbishing in nearly 35 years.

October 01, 2012|By Kate Mather, Los Angeles Times
  • The Hollywood sign read Hollywoodland when it was built in 1923.
The Hollywood sign read Hollywoodland when it was built in 1923. (Irfan Khan, Los Angeles…)

It wouldn't be a true celebrity without a face-lift.

The Hollywood sign is set to undergo its most extensive refurbishing in nearly 35 years starting Tuesday, when crews will begin repainting the iconic white letters overlooking Los Angeles.

Workers will strip the letters of their paint and pressure-wash the exposed corrugated metal before priming and repainting them white, according to the Hollywood Sign Trust. The back of the sign will also be scraped, sanded and painted.

The project, expected to take 275 gallons of paint and 110 gallons of primer, should take eight to 10 weeks, trust officials said. Expenses will be covered by the trust and Sherwin-Williams, which declined to state how much the project will cost.

Mule teams and tractors helped lug 50-foot-tall letters up the hillside when the sign was built in 1923, according to the trust's website. It read "Hollywoodland" until 1949, the first year the then-deteriorating sign was made over.

Although the sign was maintained over the years, by 1978 an "O" had fallen down the hillside and termites had infested the remaining letters. The city determined that $250,000 would be needed to rebuild the sign.

Enter Hugh Hefner. The Playboy magnate threw a fundraiser at his mansion, where several celebrities — including Andy Williams, Gene Autry and Alice Cooper — pitched in to sponsor letters at $27,500 apiece, the trust said. The sign was demolished in August 1978, and a new one was unveiled on live television three months later.

The sign was most recently painted in 2005, a project that ended when Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa "rappelled down the hillside and applied the final strokes of coating himself," according to the trust's website.

kate.mather@latimes.com

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