Someone Threatened To Blow Up The Hollywood Sign With Pipe Bombs, But Their Plan Had One Gigantic Flaw

The Hollywood Sign from a distance.
(Image credit: Getty/ Steve Proehl)

Los Angeles’ iconic Hollywood Sign has been altered, defaced and threatened on numerous occasions since it was originally put up in 1923 as an advertisement for the Hollywoodland housing development, but I’m not sure it’s ever been at the center of a stranger criminal scheme than what happened over the weekend. On Sunday, a man called the Hollywood Police Department and said he would blow up the famous landmark if he wasn’t paid $10,000. Unfortunately, his grand plan had one major flaw.

Instead of calling the Hollywood, California Police Department, it seems the unidentified criminal instead called the Hollywood, Florida Police Department. He allegedly told them he’d use pipe bombs to destroy The Hollywood Sign if he wasn’t paid the money. According to TMZ, the authorities in Florida phoned their Los Angeles based counterparts after they got off with the guy. A full investigation was conducted, but police didn’t find any credibility to the threat, as there is already a lot of security in place around the iconic visual.

Of course, the sign hasn’t always been monitored quite as closely as it is now. It was originally constructed in 1923 and read Hollywoodland. It was part of a planned year and a half advertising project for a new housing community. Once the campaign was over, however, everyone liked the sign and decided to keep it up as a way to advertise Hollywood and show business in general. In the late 1940s, as condition of the sign deteriorated, the Hollywood Chamber Of Commerce paid to have it rebuilt, but removed the “Land” on the end.

A car driving toward the Hollywoodland Sign way back in the day.

(Image credit: Getty/ Underwood Archives / Contributor)

That new version lasted into the 1970s when it started looking really rough again. A bunch of local companies and celebrities, led by Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, chipped in and paid for a new sign to be built, which eventually went up in 1978. All of the donors, including Hefner, Alice Cooper, Gene Autry and others each paid almost $30,000 to restore one letter each, and that’s the sign that has remained until today.

Every so often, someone tries to deface the sign or change around the lettering in order to promote some kind of project or protest a specific cause. Sometimes the plans work briefly. Sometimes they do not. But obviously making some alterations so it spells “HollyWeed” is a little different than threatening to blow up the entire landmark for what seems like a much smaller amount of money than should have been asked for.

At this point, it’s unclear if either of the police departments have any promising leads or are actively trying to hunt down the identity of the caller. For now, everyone involved seems to feel confident the sign isn’t facing any pressing threat, though if something ever were to happen, I’d imagine there would be plenty of modern celebrities who would be happy to sponsor one of the letters.

Editor In Chief

Mack Rawden is the Editor-In-Chief of CinemaBlend. He first started working at the publication as a writer back in 2007 and has held various jobs at the site in the time since including Managing Editor, Pop Culture Editor and Staff Writer. He now splits his time between working on CinemaBlend’s user experience, helping to plan the site’s editorial direction and writing passionate articles about niche entertainment topics he’s into. He graduated from Indiana University with a degree in English (go Hoosiers!) and has been interviewed and quoted in a variety of publications including Digiday. Enthusiastic about Clue, case-of-the-week mysteries, a great wrestling promo and cookies at Disney World. Less enthusiastic about the pricing structure of cable, loud noises and Tuesdays.