The Trust for Public Land tried everything to raise the $12.5 million needed to purchase the land behind the Hollywood sign from developers. A weird public awareness campaign that actually altered the letters–sometimes quite amusingly–during President’s Day Weekend. Corporate funding from high-profile donors like Tiffany & Co. Neighborhood bake sales. But in the end, it was large naked breasts that saved the day. Today, Playboy’s Hugh Hefner tossed in the last $900,000 needed to buy 138 acres around the world’s most famous sign.
But it’s not the first time that Hef has pitched in for these nine letters. Here’s Hefner standing in front of the sorry sign back in 1978 just before a gala fundraiser he threw at the Playboy Mansion. Letters were auctioned off to celebs for $27,700 each: Gene Autry got the ‘L,’ Alice Cooper got the ‘O,’ Andy Williams got the ‘W,’ and Hef himself got the ‘Y.’
Why celebs were so slow to rally around this year’s preservation effort is a mystery–maybe buying open space for the city isn’t nearly as sexy as buying a 45-foot letter? The biggest names who donated–Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg–were only announced today, and the one person who epitomizes Hollywood in our government–Arnold Schwarzenegger–was nowhere to be seen. But the Governator finally made it down to Hollywood this morning for his photo-op and gratuitous quip: “The Hollywood sign will welcome dreamers, artists, and Austrian bodybuilders for generations to come.”