One of the most iconic items of movie memorabilia was to be found in Aberdeenshire yesterday as the ‘H’ from the original Hollywood sign arrived in Oldmeldrum.
Absent from public view for 40 years, the 50-foot-tall letter was in the yard at James Fisher Offshore for a test assembly ahead of a world tour, premiering in London later this month.
The original sign was erected in 1923 and soon became synonymous with the glamour and excitement of the film industry in Los Angeles.
The ‘H’ symbolised everything that was Hollywood and to touch the sign was a rite of passage for all aspiring actors and actresses.
It stood for 55 years until 1978 when a fund-raising campaign was launched by the likes of Alice Cooper and Hugh Hefner to replace the sign, which had fallen into disrepair.
The sign that started it all was then placed in storage until 2007, when it was acquired by world-renowned artist and sculptor Bill Mack.
In 2012, Mr Mack decided he would try to restore the sign and rebuilt it to the extent that it is now ready to travel the world, giving the public a first glimpse of the iconic letter.
Mr Mack’s good friend Keith Douglas runs James Fisher in Oldmeldrum, where yesterday engineers carried out final checks before the sign embarks on its tour on June 21.
Mr Douglas, who also acts as tour promoter for the sign’s world tour, said: “When the sign came into the yard, it was a bit of a moment actually.
“Since 1978 it has never been seen outside, by anybody, and yet here it is in a yard on Oldmeldrum.
“It’s just an awesome sight and an amazing event to have it here in the north-east.”
It has taken more than 5,000 hours to restore the ‘H’, which is the height of four double decker buses and weighs 56,000 pounds.
The sign is designed and constructed to be taken apart and will travel by land in a 53 feet flatbed truck and by sea in two shipping containers.
Its appearance at the O2 in London will start a five-year-long tour that will see it visit 60 cities, allowing the world a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to engage with the iconic sign.
Following the tour, the ‘H’ will return home to Los Angeles where it will become a permanent installation in time for its 100th anniversary.
For more information, visit www.heartofhollywoodtour.com.
The Hollywood sign H factfile
• At 50 feet tall, the ‘H’ is the height of four London double decker buses.
• At 33.5 feet wide, the sign is wider than the length of a London bus.
• At 56,000 pounds, it weighs more than three London buses.
• The sign stood on Mount Lee, in the Hollywood Hills area of the Santa Monica Mountains in Los Angeles from 1923 to 1978, when it was replaced.
• $250,000 was raised in 1978 for the sign’s restoration by nine donors donating $27,777.77 each for one letter. Hugh Hefner paid for the H, Alice Cooper for an O, and the singer Andy Williams paid for the W.
• The sign’s appearance in Oldmeldrum yesterday was the first time the sign has been seen outside the US.
• There are imitations of the Hollywood sign in Taiwan, Poland and Ireland.