Did a heartbroken young actress really jump to her death in the 30’s?
I know Beachwood Canyon where the Hollywood sign is located, like the back of my hand. I’ve lived here for ages and it’s hard to imagine the gumption it would take to get up to the sign and jump, cuz it’s no picnic getting up to the actual letters. I’ve hiked, walked and hung out here from the base of Beachwood Drive up to the crest of Mulholland, hiking through the scrub to get to the top of the sign. It’s not easy because the area around the sign is steep and pretty barren. The sign is massive, 50 feet tall by 30 feet wide, so someone jumping would have to climb up the letter, then haul herself over the signs edge to fall to her death.
But that’s exactly what Peg Entwhistle did on September 16th, 1932. Some say she died of a broken heart and still haunts the base of the sign where her broken body was discoved the next morning by a neighborhood hiker. The old-timer’s in the neighborhood all say it’s haunted around the base of the sign because she’s still searching for her Hollywood dream. But that’s probably to keep the kids from messing around up there. Now there’s sensor lights and all sorts of security stuff to keep people from vandalising the place. But back then, it was just you and the wind hiking up at the top of Mt. Lee.
Since 1923, that sign has acted as the ultimate Hollywood temptress, sending out a siren call to the millions who venture here with dreams of making it big since it was erected to advertise the Hollywoodland housing development that was just being built.
Peg lived in the canyon, right at 2428 Beachwood Drive, with her uncle Harold. She originally came from Wales, emigrating to New York City with her dad when she was a kid of fourteen. After her father was hit and killed by a car, she pulled herself out of the first of many depressive episodes she was to suffer and became a Broadway actress appearring in 8 Broadway shows. None of them was particularly successful, so she did what most young hopefuls do and hoofed it out to Hollywood.
Once here, the going wasn’t easy. It never really is, no matter what you choose to do. Peg did one picture with RKO who signed her to a contract, but when the picture bombed, she was dropped. It only took 5 months for Peg’s dream to fade. Like everyone who commits suicide, Peg spiraled down into a depression so massive that she gave up her dreams of Hollywood. On that warm September evening, she left the house, telling her uncle she was going to the drugstore and then would be visiting friends. Instead she took the long hike up the canyon, winding up the barren dirt fire road to access the sign. The last leg of getting to the sign requires some real skill, you have to pull yourself up on scrub bushes because of the steep incline. She got to the H and climbed up the back of the sign using a workman’s access ladder.
She left a note saying, “I am afraid, I am a coward. I am sorry for everything. If I had done this a long time ago, it would have saved a lot of pain. P.E.” in the purse found with the neatly folded jacket at the base of the sign.