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Hugh Hefner Helps Hollywood Heritage
Although originally spelling out Hollywoodland, and simply an advert for a housing development atop Los Angeles erected in 1923, the Hollywood sign has become an intrinsic part of film industry legend, acting as a beacon to the world’s wannabes and a grisly suicide spot for the never-weres. Unthinkable, but until last week, this slice of Americana and tourist favourite was in danger of being lost forever. Luckily, another dilapidated and slightly tacky LA institution Hugh Hefner, stepped in with a generous donation to preserve the landmark for future generations.
Hef’s last-minute $900,000 donation saved the 138 acres of parkland surrounding the 50-foot high sign. The land was owned by Chicago developers who were interested in building on the site, and for the past two years, a select coterie of old-school Los Angeles celebrities and movie studios raised over $12.5 million to buy the land in an effort to preserve it, but it wasn’t until Hefner threw in his lot that the Thomas Fisk Goff designed sign’s future was secured. The Playboy mogul called the sign 'Hollywood's Eiffel Tower,' and said he was 'pleased to help preserve such an important cultural landmark.'
Considering that the original structure was only built with an 18-month lifespan in mind, it’s a feat in itself that it’s still standing. That’s partly thanks to a structural upgrade to steel in 1978, again supported financially by Hugh Hefner.