LOS ANGELES: The refurbished Hollywood sign was presented in all its freshly painted glory Tuesday after its biggest makeover for 35 years, in time for 90th birthday celebrations next year.Some 360 gallons of fresh bright white paint was applied over the last two months to the Tinseltown icon, which sits atop Mount Lee in the Hollywood Hills north of Los Angeles.
“This sign is so beautiful. It's where people, when they get off the plane at LAX (airport), this is where they want to come to. It's a special day,” said the LA city council member for Hollywood, Tom LaBonge.
He and other dignitaries spoke at a press conference held beneath the sign by the Hollywood Sign Trust, which manages the structure, to announce the completion of the paint job.
Over the last two months, workers have used window-cleaner style platforms to strip down the 50-foot (15-meter) tall letters, powerwash the corrugated iron and apply fresh primer and topcoat paint.
“The sign was scrubbed to the bone, and two tonnes of makeup was put on her best side. A lot was done to her backside but we've leaving that her secret,”quipped Trust head Chris Baumgart.
The original sign was erected in 1923 to advertise a property development called Hollywoodland, but the last four letters were removed in the 1940s.
One of the City of Angels' most beloved attractions, the sign had fallen into disrepair until it was restored in the 1970s after a campaign that saw nine donors pay $27,777 to “adopt” one letter each.
It was threatened again more recently when investors who own land surrounding the giant white letters indicated plans to sell the plot to developers.
But Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner helped secure the sign in 2010, along with then-California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and other Hollywood luminaries including Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks.
Although members of the public are forbidden from accessing the area around the landmark, a sophisticated alarm system including motion sensors has been set up to deter trespassers, the sign has a grisly history.
In 1932, British actress Peg Entwistle infamously committed suicide by throwing herself off the top of the letter H.