Bill Mack’s Hollywood Sign Project, Click to Play Video
ABOUT THE HOLLYWOOD SIGN PROJECT
The Original Hollywood Sign was built in 1923 on Mount Lee. Over its lifespan, the sign became a pop culture icon, and a symbol for the entire entertainment industry. The original sign, the one that was seen by celebrated stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood, has rested quietly in a storage facility since it was taken down and replaced in 1978.
When the opportunity to buy this American Icon became available, Bill Mack jumped at the chance. After buying the sign, Mack stated that, The Hollywood Sign is among the most famous structures in the World, and I will give the World a whole new way to look at it.
Mack is a contemporary artist best known for his life-like relief sculptures. He is regarded as the finest relief sculptor in the World today. He also is a highly skilled two-dimensional artist in the Romantic Realism genre, creating world-class drawings and paintings of the human form as studies for each of the reliefs he creates.
Mack is an avid collector of art, historical letters and documents, and Hollywood memorabilia. His appreciation of both art and entertainment artifacts inspired Mack to acquire the sign. Mack will use the façade of the original Hollywood Sign as a canvas to create portraits of illustrious Movie Star from the Golden Age of Hollywood. According to Mack the 80-year-old material gives each painting a heartbeat, a sense pf the time and place where Hollywood Legends first stood atop Mount Lee next to the very sign on which their images have been painted.
The Hollywood Sign symbolizes fame, fortune and glamour, unlike any other image in the World. The Hollywood Sign is Hollywood. According to its former owner, producer, Dan Bliss, unless the Eiffel Tower and/or Statue of Liberty are put up for sale, this was the last chance to own one of the World’s most famous structures. Artist Bill Mack took that chance and he now owns entertainment’s most famous icon, the Original Hollywood Sign.
The image of Hollywoods first blonde star, silent film legend, Jean Harlow, is the first in a series of original mixed media paintings with the likeliness of film immortal emblazed on sections of the Original Hollywood Sign.
MORE ABOUT THE HOLLYWOOD SIGN
In 1923, a prominent group of investors prepared to develop a residential neighborhood called Hollywoodland. Among the investors were Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler and movie director Mack Sennett. To promote the development, Chandler hired contractor George Roche to build the world’s largest sign. The letters of the sign spelled “HOLLYWOODLAND”. The sign was built with telephone poles and barn roofing at a cost of $21,000.00. Holes were punched through the sign to help relieve stress caused by wind. Although it was intended to last for only two years, the sign survived to become a beloved part of American History.
In 1949, the City of Los Angeles entered into a maintenance agreement with the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce to preserve the sign. The last four letters were removed, and, for the first time, the sign simply spelled “HOLLYWOOD”.
The entertainment industry expanded dramatically throughout the 1950’s & 1960’s. During this period, the Hollywood sign became internationally recognized through its exposure in films, television, commercials, and the media. The sign’s prominence and historical significance led the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Board to designate the Hollywood sign as a landmark in 1973. It was labeled as Cultural Historical Monument #111 by the Board.
During the 1970’s, the Hollywood sign deteriorated badly. By 1978, the third O had fallen over, and the sign could no longer be repaired. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce launched the “Save the Sign” campaign with the help of several celebrities. Nine donors each sponsored a new letter to cover the cost of rebuilding the sign. The donors included Hugh Hefner, Gene Autry, Andy Williams, Alice Cooper and others. Over $250,000.00 was raised. Interestingly, Alice Cooper made his contribution in honor of Groucho Marx.
Hal Brown Jr., of the Pacific Outdoor Advertising Company, was contracted to rebuild the sign. The Hollywood sign was very personal to Brown because his uncle, George Roche, had built the original sign in 1923. Brown hired Cornelius Van Dam as the engineer responsible for designing the new Hollywood sign. Van Dam designed the new sign with a more durable structure, but the same dimensions as the original. The plans were approved by the City of Los Angeles, the Cultural Heritage Board, and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. The original, legendary Hollywood sign was taken down and construction of the replica sign began in August 1978. The new sign was unveiled in November 1978.
The original Hollywood sign was placed in a storage facility after it was taken down. No one was aware that the company hired to remove the sign had understood its historical significance and elected to store it rather than dispose of it as was planned. The sign remained in storage until it was purchased by noted collector of rare and unusual memorabilia, and renowned artist, Bill Mack in 2007. The artist intends to use the metal facing from the sign as canvas on which he will paint the likenesses of the great “movie stars” from the Golden Years of Hollywood. It is this metal that was revered by all the young actors and actresses that climbed Mount Lee to touch it and have pictures taken with it for luck, and as a right of passage into their new professions. And, it is this metal that will bring life to the legendary images that Bill Mack paints on it.