The Hollywood Sign: Fantasy and Reality of an American Icon (Paperback)
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Hollywood's famous sign, constructed of massive white block letters set into a steep hillside, is an emblem of the movie capital it looms over and an international symbol of glamour and star power. To so many who see its image, the sign represents the earthly home of that otherwise ethereal world of fame, stardom, and celebrity--the goal of American and worldwide aspiration to be in the limelight, to be, like the Hollywood sign itself, instantly recognizable.

How an advertisement erected in 1923, touting the real estate development Hollywoodland, took on a life of its own is a story worthy of the entertainment world that is its focus. Leo Braudy traces the remarkable history of this distinctly American landmark, which has been saved over the years by a disparate group of fans and supporters, among them Alice Cooper and Hugh Hefner, who spearheaded its reconstruction in the 1970s. He also uses the sign's history to offer an intriguing look at the rise of the movie business from its earliest, silent days through the development of the studio system that helped define modern Hollywood. Mixing social history, urban studies, literature, and film, along with forays into such topics as the lure of Hollywood for utopian communities and the development of domestic architecture in Los Angeles, The Hollywood Sign is a fascinating account of how a temporary structure has become a permanent icon of American culture.

About the Author

Leo Braudy is among America's leading cultural historians and film critics. He currently is University Professor and Leo S. Bing Chair in English and American Literature at the University of Southern California. He lives in Los Angeles.

Praise For…

“Deliciously quirky and intelligent . . . In his irresistible take on the famous sign, Braudy spins a larger metaphor for the culture and history of California itself.”—Joy Horowitz, Los Angeles Review of Books
-Joy Horowitz

“Braudy offers a stimulating exploration of Hollywood’s significance in Western culture.”—Edward White, Times Literary Supplement
-Edward White

"Braudy weaves an entertaining tale of the Hollywood sign’s various lives and incarnations."—T. Rees Shapiro, Washington Post
-T. Rees Shapiro

“This is a magically brief book, written with wit and elegance, on the whole history of Los Angeles and the movies.”—David Thomson, New Republic
-David Thomson

“A short, lively book . . . artfully distilled.”—Paul Brownfield, Los Angeles Times

-Paul Brownfield

“Terrific . . . As I read the book, I marked passages that I thought were particularly interesting, surprising or well-written. Before long I realized I was marking just about everything.”—Geoff Nicholson, San Francisco Chronicle
-Geoff Nicholson

Product Details
ISBN: 9780300181456
ISBN-10: 0300181450
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication Date: February 21st, 2012
Pages: 224
Language: English
Series: Icons of America (Paperback)