Tinseltown’s most iconic landmark is having some work done.
The legendary, if faded, white Hollywood sign set in the hills of Los Angeles is getting its first makeover in roughly 35 years this week as crews have started an eight to 10 week effort to completely spruce up the most famous nine letters in Southern California.
The sign gets repainted periodically — the last time was in 2005 — but this project is far more ambitious. Workers will strip off all the old paint and add a protective layer consisting of 110 gallons of acrylic primer and a sparkling coat of 275 gallons of white exterior paint.
A local Los Angeles commercial painting crew will handle the job, sponsored by Sherwin-Williams and the Hollywood Sign Trust — not quite as exciting as when mules hauled the original 43-foot-tall metal letters up Mount Lee as an advertisement for a real estate development called Hollywoodland in 1923.
In its initial heyday, 4,000 20-watt bulbs kept the “holly,” “wood” and “land” portions of the sign blinking in true look-at-me-now fashion. In 1949 the “land” portion came down, leaving the “Hollywood” that we know today. The sign sank into disrepair for the next three decades, according to the trust, losing almost an entire “O” and much of the “D.” Termites gnawed away at the rest.
In 1978, Hugh Hefner stepped in and convinced celebrities to sponsor the refurbishment of the sign, at $27,500 per letter, and after three months and 194 tons of concrete, enamel and steel later, the current sign was finished.
In the current sprucing up, crews will pressure-wash the corrugated metal, sanding and stripping it of all the weather-beaten paint before a glimmering coat of paint makes the old sign look new again. How fitting. This is Hollywood, after all.