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Hollywood sign to get facelift as crews prep for repainting

October 1, 2012 |  2:33 pm

It wouldn't be a true celebrity without a facelift.

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 to complete, trust officials said. Expenses will be covered by the trust and Sherwin-Williams, which declined to state how much the project would cost.

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

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


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Photo: Painters touch up the Hollywood sign in 2005, when it was last repainted. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times