How many people have Jumped off The Hollywood Sign? Rising 45 feet over the hills of Los Angeles, the nine white letters spelling “HOLLYWOOD” form one of the world’s most recognizable cultural landmarks. For the 10 million visitors who crowd into Griffith Park each year to catch a glimpse, the sign is a must-see tourist attraction. But for aspiring stars hoping to make it big, it’s something much more: a reminder of the city’s storied past and a hopeful glance toward the possibility of their own glittering future.
But there’s a dark side to the Hollywood sign as well. On the night of September 16, 1932, a young actress named Peg Entwistle left her uncle’s home, walked to the nearby Hollywood sign, climbed a maintenance ladder to the top of the letter “H,” and jumped to her death. She was 24 years old.
How many people have Jumped off The Hollywood Sign?
In a story that could have come from Hollywood itself, a severed human head was found dumped in a plastic bag under the world famous sign yesterday .
The remains, thought to be that of an Armenian American man in his 40s, were discovered by dog walkers in the hills of California’s Bronson Canyon Park.
The case, which is now being treated as murder, is the latest in a long line of strange occurrences surrounding the landmark, which was erected on Mount Lee in 1923.
In its 79-year history, the iconic sign, which originally read ‘Hollywoodland’ to promote a housing development, has become the subject of countless stories, urban legends and pranks.
The site is reportedly a hotspot for paranormal activity which many theorists link to the death of a young actress who is believed to have committed suicide at the sign.
On the night of September 16, 1932, struggling little-known actress Peg Entwistle is thought to have left her uncle’s house on nearby Beachwood Drive saying she was going to meet friends.
Instead the 24-year-old headed to the Hollywood sign, found a ladder propped up against the letter H, climbed 50ft and jumped to her death.
Her coat and purse were reportedly found at the bottom of the letter by a female hiker who informed police, who later discovered her body down a hill near to the sign.
A suicide note was allegedly found in the purse which read: “I am afraid, I am a coward. I am sorry for everything. If I had done this a long time ago, it would have saved a lot of pain. P.E.”
The suicide made national news and tabloids dubbed Peg the “Hollywood Sign Girl”.
Over the years, there have been numerous reported paranormal sightings of a blonde woman dressed in 1930s-style clothing who appears to walk around in a daze.
A park ranger at Griffith Park is believed to have seen the same female ghost several times, and always detects the smell of gardenias and a couple walking their dog saw the woman appear then vanish in the same spot.
She emigrated to the United States in the early 20th century.
Entwistle was born Millicent Lillian in Wales in 1908 to parents who were British actors. She spent early life in London before ultimately emigrating to the U.S. with her father at a young age, following her parents’ separation. Tragedy struck in 1922, when her father died after a collision with a car in New York City. Thereafter, Entwistle and her siblings lived with their uncle.
Entwistle was a talented Broadway actress.
At 17 years old, Entwistle embarked on her Broadway career. She appeared in multiple Broadway productions, and her acting in The Wild Duck had reportedly even inspired a young Bette Davis, who told her mother after seeing Entwistle’s performance, “I want to be exactly like Peg Entwistle.”
By 1926, Entwistle was recruited by the New York Theatre Guild. The following year she married a fellow actor, Robert Keith, but filed for divorce soon after, claiming cruelty on his part and that he failed to tell her that he was previously married and already had a son.
She continued to act while touring with the Theatre Guild, even earning some publicity with a short article published about her from the New York Times. In 1929, Entwistle told the Oakland Tribune that she yearned for more challenging roles as an actress.
I would rather play roles that carry conviction. Maybe it is because they are the easiest and yet the hardest things for me to do. To play any kind of an emotional scene I must work up to a certain pitch. If I reach this in my first word, the rest of the words and lines take care of themselves. But if I fail, I have to build up the balance of the speeches, and in doing this the whole characterisation falls flat. I feel that I am cheating myself. I don’t know whether other actresses get this same reaction or not, but it does worry me
Eventually, the Theatre Guild tour made it ways west, where she found herself in Los Angeles.
Her small appearance in Thirteen Women was her only credited film role.
She played a small supporting role as Hazel Cousins. The movie, which premiered a month after she died, ended up editing down Entwistle’s performance to a mere 15-second appearance. It had little critical and commercial success.
After RKO Pictures declined to renew her studio contract, Entwistle left her uncle’s home on Beachwood Drive on the night of September 16, 1932, telling him that she was heading to a “rendezvous with a friend.” Two days later, a hiker walking below the Hollywoodland sign found a woman’s shoe, jacket, and purse, which carried a suicide note. The hiker looked down and saw Entwistle’s body, then subsequently reported the information to the local authorities. Police later presumed that Entwistle used a workman’s ladder on the back of the letter to climb to the top of the sign.
“I am afraid I am a coward and I am sorry for many things,” her note read. “If I had only done this long ago I could have saved a lot of pain.”
Ryan Murphy says he related to Entwistle’s struggle in Hollywood.
The Hollywood series creator told Oprah Mag why Entwistle’s story resonated with him, especially as a young man first starting out in the entertainment industry.
“She was always the cautionary tale,” he told the magazine. “When I moved out to L.A. in the late ’80s, one of the first places I went was up to the top of the Hollywood sign. There were tours where they would show you which letter she jumped off, and how she did it.”
He adds, “I was very interested in her at a time where I was also trying. The idea that Hollywood can chew you up and spit you out and not really be fair—I’ve never really ventured far from that idea. So I really just related to her struggle and her sadness.”
Since her death, she has had an outsized influence on pop culture and the Los Angeles public imagination.
In 2014, Vanity Fair published a story on the haunting of the Hollywood sign, reporting that the stories of Entwistle’s ghost lurking near her place of death first started in the 1940s after the letter “H” mysteriously toppled over. Thereafter, joggers on the Griffith Trail have reported the overwhelming scent of gardenias—Entwistle’s supposed favorite perfume—and seeing a mysterious blonde woman still wearing 1930s attire.
Her tragic death has long lent inspiration to musicians and filmmakers. In the 2009 movie, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, the letter “H” was made to be the entrance to the Underworld. Lana Del Rey’s hit single, “Lust for Life” also begins, “Climb up the H / Of the Hollywood sign.” The music video features the singer and The Weeknd dancing atop the letter.
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