Sign Of The Times
Over the years, the famed Hollywood sign has been the scene of many things, from advertisements, to shots in movies, to concerted restoration efforts to preserve it as historic landmark. But no event was more sad, or eventually more puzzling, than that of Peg Entwhistle's death in 1932.
Peg's life was fraught with tragedy from the start. Born in 1908 in London, England, her mother died when she was a child. Her father moved them to New York, where he remarried and had two sons. While still a teenager, her father was run down by a car on Park Avenue and killed. Peg's brothers went to live with an uncle, but Peg stuck around to try her luck at acting.
For a short while, it seemed as if she had indeed, gotten lucky. Peg started out with the Boston repertory company and was soon on Broadway. She then married Robert Keith, a man ten years her senior, in 1927. He neglected to mention that he had been married before and had a six-year old son. Entwhistle divorced him, but was fond enough of her ex to keep him out of jail by paying the back alimony he owed the first wife.
As stage work became harder to get, Peg decided to head for Hollywood and the bright lights in 1931. She soon had stage work, but the play's run was cut short. Next, Peg Entwhistle landed a plum movie role, but it got such poor reviews, the studio held back its release. Depressed and near broke, she moved from a hotel for women to the home of her uncle.
On September 18, 1932, Peg told her uncle she was meeting friends at a drugstore and left the house. But instead of finding friends, she found herself climbing into the Hollywood hills to the base of the famous sign. There, she took off her coat and folded it neatly, laying it on the ground with her purse, containing a suicide note. She then climbed the maintenance ladder for the letter H, and dove off it to her death.
Because the note was only signed with initials, it was some days and several newspaper stories later, before her uncle identified her remains at the morgue. In one of those ironic twists of fate, the six year old son her husband hadn't told her about, Brian Keith, would go on to become the star of such television shows as "Family Affair", and would also commit suicide.