He brought scantily clad women to the world. Now Hugh Hefner has contributed another good deed to society -- he saved the Hollywood sign. And it's not the first time, either.
The Chicago-based development firm that owns the land around the sign was threatening to develop the 138 acres with several mansions. For Angelenos, that is tantamount to putting apartments in the Statue of Liberty's crown. So the Trust for Public Land set out to raise $12.5 million to buy the land and keep it the way it is.
The Trust missed its first deadline. But when it was granted an extension, several donors came through, with Hefner delivering the final $900,000 check. The Trust issued a statement:
"Hefner's gift capped a year-long effort, which began with $1 million gifts each from The Tiffany & Co. Foundation and Aileen Getty. At the original April 14 deadline, TPL still had $1.5 million to raise. TPL received a fundraising extension to April 30, and The Tiffany Foundation and Ms. Getty stepped forward again with a $500,000 matching grant, which TPL would receive if the remaining $1 million was raised. Hefner's gift closed that final gap and enabled TPL to realize the Tiffany and Getty challenge funds."
In his own statement, Hefner called the sign "Hollywood's Eiffel Tower." California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called Hefner's move "the Hollywood ending we hoped for."
Hefner has rescued the sign before. Back in the 1970s when the Hollywood sign was in a terrible state of disrepair, Hefner spearheaded the drive to permanently restore the sign to its former glory.
The 138 acres will now become part of Griffith Park, adding to what is already the largest municipal park in the nation.