Is the Hollywood Sign as haunted as many believe?

For decades, the Hollywood sign has loomed over Los Angeles, embodying the allure and mystique of stardom. It’s not just a sign; it’s a beacon of dreams fulfilled, dreams pursued, and dreams shattered.

When the Hollywood sign was initially erected in 1923, it was meant simply as a temporary advertisement for local real estate. No one could have imagined that it would turn into one of America’s most recognizable landmarks, or one of its most haunted.

Peg Entiwstle - The Spirit of The Hollywood Sign

Hollywood Sign Peg Entwistle
Legend has it that the ethereal presence haunting the Hollywood sign belongs to none other than Peg Entwistle, an actress whose life story reads like a tragic screenplay.

Peg was born Millicent Lillian Entwistle in 1908. At a young age, she and her siblings moved from England to New York with their father, who then began a brief career as a Broadway actor. Shortly following his retirement from the stage, Peg’s father was killed in a hit-and-run accident.

Peg and her siblings moved to Los Angeles to live with their aunt and uncle. By age 17, however, she returned to New York to follow in her father’s footsteps as a Broadway actress.

The young woman was a successful performer, and things seemed to be going well for her. That is, until she married a man by the name of Robert Keith. Unbeknownst to Peg, Robert had a long history of debt, arrests, and alleged abuse.

In 1929, Peg divorced Robert, citing mental anguish caused by her ex-husband. After the divorce, however, she stopped getting roles. Her former friends abandoned her. The entire New York theater community had seemingly turned against her, and she was forced out of Broadway.

Peg pivoted to pursue a career in film, instead, and moved back to Los Angeles in 1931. Almost immediately, she landed a contract with RKO and then, a role in the 1932 film, “Thirteen Women.” Peg was cast as a lesbian character, which was scandalous for the time.

When the film was met with poor reviews due to this character, Peg’s performance was almost entirely cut from the film. Directly following this, she was abruptly dropped from her studio contract.

Peg’s world had crumbled around her. She had endured abuse from her ex-husband, lost two careers and seemingly had no hope for the future. On September 16, 1932, she told her uncle that she was going to walk to the drugstore to meet some friends. Instead, she went to the Hollywood sign.

Ascending the 45-foot ladder behind the “H” of the sign, Peg left behind her earthly troubles with a leap into the abyss. She was only 24 years old. The next morning, a hiker discovered Peg’s personal items, including a purse, coat, and a shoe.

In her purse, Peg had left a note. “I am afraid I am a coward. I am sorry for everything,” she had written. “If I had done this a long time ago it would have saved a lot of pain. -P.E.”

In true Hollywood fashion, a few days after her death, a letter arrived at her uncle’s house, offering her a major role in a film. The role they offered her was that of a woman who takes her own life.

Despite her years of success, the source of Peg’s enduring fame was her death. To this day, she is most well-known as the “Hollywood sign girl”.

In 1944, the “H” in the sign collapsed. Officially, this was attributed to high wind and harsh weather, but more superstitious folks believe that it was the spirit of Peg Entwistle that caused the letter to fall.

Stories had already been circulating about her spirit being sighted at the sign, and this only seemed to reinforce these tales.

The Hauntings

Hikers and park rangers alike began reporting encounters with a pretty blonde woman near the sign. She is said to be dressed in 1930s-era clothing, with heels and a veil over her face. She looks sad, or possibly confused.

Despite the steep and rugged terrain surrounding the sign, this woman navigates the hillside with ease. She seems almost to glide across the ground, and her footfalls make no sound. She is most often encountered on foggy nights and is only seen beyond sundown.

Security systems have been installed around the sign to prevent trespassing and vandalism, and frequently, these alarms will alert of a presence that isn’t really there.

One night, a Griffith Park ranger was parked in front of the sign when an alarm went off. The security system indicated a human standing only five feet from the ranger’s truck, but no one was around.

Sightings of Peg are often accompanied by the overpowering scent of gardenias, which was her favorite fragrance. People also report feelings of unease, and sudden, inexplicable spikes in temperature around the sign.

Several people have even witnessed Peg’s spirit reliving her last moments, standing atop the “H”. These hikers called the police in fear of this person jumping, only to have her vanish right before their eyes.

Visitors also regularly capture orbs in photographs and report seeing shadowy figures dating between the sign’s letters.

The Hollywood sign is located in Griffith Park, which is famous for its own set of ghost stories, and as a hotspot for UFO sightings. Perhaps there is something special about this land which causes a higher concentration of otherworldly happenings.

Visiting the Hollywood Sign

These days, the Hollywood sign is not easy to reach. Frequent trespassing, and crowds of tourists flooding residential streets, have led to several trail closures and increased security around the sign.

The only authorized paths to view the sign are the Mr. Hollywood, Brush Canyon, and Cahuenga Peak Trails. Cahuenga is only recommended for experienced hikers as it is considered a rather difficult hike.

These trails, like all others in Griffith Park, are open from sunrise to sunset, 365 days a year. Another easy way to view the sign is by catching a ride on the DASH Observatory Bus, which runs seven days a week, and only costs 50 cents to ride.