Peg Entwistle and the Hollywood Sign

Scene of Many Hollywood Legends

Scene of Many Hollywood Legends

It stands near the top of Mount Lee in the Hollywood Hills. Originally, the sign read “Hollywoodland”—erected using telephone poles and tin to advertise the housing development below. Eventually, the sign was shortened to “Hollywood” and came to signify something altogether different.

I first heard about the story from Dory Previn, who wrote a song called “Mary C. Brown and the Hollywood Sign” way back in the 1970s. You can hear her singing it in this YouTube video.  It is about a movie starlet who grew disenchanted with the dream factory ending her life by jumping off the letter “H” of the Hollywood sign and dying on the slope below of multiple fractures of the pelvis. She died on September 18, 1932.

It really happened, but not to Mary C. Brown. I guess Millicent Lilian “Peg” Entwistle doesn’t scan as well in a song lyric. Peg was a cute blonde Welsh actress with blue eyes. While acting on the stage in New York, she married Robert Keith in 1927. For a short time, she was the stepmother of the man who grew up to be actor Brian Keith.

By coincidence, Brian Keith also committed suicide.

Starlet Peg Entwistle

Starlet Peg Entwistle

During her time in Hollywood, Peg acted in only one film that was ever released: Thirteen Women (1932). I would like to be able to say that it was a success, but it wasn’t, even though it starred Myrna Loy and Irene Dunne.