The Hollywood Sign by Leo Braudy
Fantasy and Reality of an American Icon (Icons of America)

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Synopsis

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 Leo Braudy

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Leo Braudy is University Professor and Bing Professor of English at the University of Southern California. He previously taught at Yale, Columbia, and Johns Hopkins. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship as well as a Senior Scholar Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. He has been a fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation at the Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio, Italy, as well as a writer-in-residence at the American Academy in Rome. His book, Jean Renoir: The World of His Films, was a finalist for the National Book Award. Another of his books, The Frenzy of Renown: Fame and Its History, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Harper's. Mr. Braudy lives with his wife in Los Angeles.
 
Published March 15, 2011 by Yale University Press. 224 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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New York Journal of Books

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At the same time, while the three dimensional place icons of other high profile places can be seen up close, touched, and experienced, the Hollywood sign is something that is seen but not, for the most part, touched, for it is located in the natural, brush-laden—and largely inaccessible except to...

Feb 24 2012 | Read Full Review of The Hollywood Sign: Fantasy a...

Los Angeles Times

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A USC cultural critic revisits L.A.'s cultural and historical epochs while tracing the Hollywood sign through phases as billboard, eyesore and glamorous celebrity.

Feb 27 2011 | Read Full Review of The Hollywood Sign: Fantasy a...

Los Angeles Times

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A USC cultural critic revisits L.A.'s cultural and historical epochs while tracing the Hollywood sign through phases as billboard, eyesore and glamorous celebrity.

Feb 27 2011 | Read Full Review of The Hollywood Sign: Fantasy a...

San Francisco Chronicle

The Hollywood Sign has a backdrop of the snow-covered peaks of the San Gabriel Mountains in the Los Angeles basin, following days of rain, snow and abnormally cold temperatures, Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.

Mar 06 2011 | Read Full Review of The Hollywood Sign: Fantasy a...

Review (Barnes & Noble)

Even the street signs at the intersection of Hollywood and Vine said "Hollywood" more clearly than the Hollywood sign, although tourists who made their way to the actual street corner would find nothing much to look at there.

May 09 2011 | Read Full Review of The Hollywood Sign: Fantasy a...

Denver Post

Braudy details how the sign was built with letters 50 feet high and anchored by telephone poles at a cost of $21,000.

May 04 2011 | Read Full Review of The Hollywood Sign: Fantasy a...

Los Angeles Review of Books

IF ONE DESIGNER SYMBOLIZES the reality of California diversity — and our struggle to come to terms with it — it is John Lautner.

May 26 2012 | Read Full Review of The Hollywood Sign: Fantasy a...

Los Angeles Review of Books

... Some books, including Harold Kirker's California's Architectural Frontier .....
interviews Leo Braudy "VIDEO: Leo Braudy on the Hollywood Sign" ...

May 26 2012 | Read Full Review of The Hollywood Sign: Fantasy a...

http://www.lareviewofbooks.org

Leo Braudy discusses the Hollywood Sign and what it means as an icon, as a historical artifact, as a monument, as a beacon, along with the history of Hollywood as a place and an idea.

Jan 01 2012 | Read Full Review of The Hollywood Sign: Fantasy a...

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