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Posts Tagged ‘Hollywood’

On July 13, 1923, the iconic Hollywood sign was officially dedicated after being erected to advertise a housing development in the Hollywood Hills.  Initially (and as seen in the 1925 photograph below) the sign read “Hollywoodland” with each of the 13 letters constructed out of wood and sheet metal and measuring 30 feet wide and 50 feet high.  It was only meant to remain on the hillside for a year or two, but it soon became an enduring symbol of the American film industry.  It was renovated once in the 1940s, when the last four letters were removed, and again in the late 1970s when 9 celebrities each donated $27,777 to replace the deteriorated letters with a more durable steel counterpart.

View of Vine Street looking north from Barton Avenue towards the Hollywood sign, ca.1925. Image courtesy of the California Historical Society via the USC Digital Library.

You can find more images of early Hollywood and primary resources relating to popular culture at Opening History.

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Film stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks wed on March 28, 1920, causing a stir throughout Hollywood as they became the most famous couple of the “golden age” of film. Pickford, known as “America’s Sweetheart,” and Fairbanks were among the leading actors of the era, and their marriage came at a time when films were beginning to replace live theater productions across the country. Silent films, newspapers, and magazines like Photoplay offered fans an idealized image of life in Hollywood, and throngs of admirers came out to meet the couple during their honeymoon in Europe and return to the United States. Though the marriage ultimately failed, Pickford and Fairbanks left an indelible mark on Hollywood through their films, the creation of Pickford-Fairbanks studio, and their embodiment of stardom for generations of moviegoers.

Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks ca. 1920. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

A 1926 aerial photograph of Hollywood, including Pickford-Fairbanks Studio. Image courtesy of the University of Southern California

Opening History offers several rich collections related to early Hollywood and the history of film. The George Grantham Bain Collection includes many photographs of celebrities in the 1910s and 1920s from a news picture agency. The Digital Library of Georgia collection Blues, Black vaudeville, and the silver screen, 1912-1930s : selections from the records of Macon’s Douglass Theatre offers an important perspective on theater and film created specifically for an African-American audience.

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