It's a shame that twenty-four year old Peg Entwistle, a talented and accomplished stage actress, is most remembered for her death. An unsuccessful attempt at a film career led her to a tragic end that happened eighty-one years ago today.
Here's an account from About.com:
On the night of September , 1932, actress Peg Entwistle made her way up the steep slope of Mount Lee in Los Angeles to the site of the famous Hollywood sign (back then it spelled out "Hollywoodland"). She took off her coat and neatly folded it, put down her purse, and climbed up the maintenance ladder on the back of the 50-foot-high letter H. She stood atop it for a moment, looking over the lights of the glamorous city below, then leapt to her death.Peg probably died instantly, and her body was found [on September 18]by a hiker.
Born in 1908 in Port Talbot, Wales, U.K., Millicent Lilian Entwistle, nicknamed Peg, saw more than her share of tragedy. She was just a child when her mother died unexpectedly, after which she moved with her father to New York City. A few years later, he was struck down by a hit-and-run car on Park Avenue and killed.
Peg was able to find stage work in productions featuring such stars as Dorothy Gish and Laurette Taylor, but was already battling the demons of depression. Nevertheless, she set her sights on Hollywood and moved to Los Angles in 1932 in hopes of landing roles in motion pictures.
At first she found work again on the stage, but then it seemed her destiny had really changed when RKO signed her to appear in the film Thirteen Women (click here to watch her appearance), starring Irene Dunne. When previews of the film received poor reviews, the studio re-edited it, and much of Peg's part was left on the editing floor. RKO subsequently dropped the options on her contract. And on the night of September , 1932, after a bout of heavy drinking fueled by her depression and despair, 24-year-old Peg Entwistle told her uncle (with whom she was living) that she was going to meet some friends at a local drug store. Instead, she made her way to the Hollywood sign to meet her fate.
I recently learned that Peg's grave site is in Oak Hill Cemetery in Glendale, Ohio, a small town close to Cincinnati. Over the summer, the kids and I took a field trip there to find it.
With my youngest at the grave site
Although this song wasn't written for Peg Entwistle, I'm using it as a little tribute to her, compliments of Steely Dan:
I've seen your picture
Your name in lights above it
This is your big debut
It's like a dream come true
And when you smile for the camera
I know they're gonna love it
I like your pin shot
I keep it with your letter
Done up in blueprint blue
It sure looks good on you
So won't you smile for the camera
I know I'll love you better
It will come back to you
It will come back to you
Then the shutter falls
You see it all in 3-D
It's your favorite foreign movie
Were you familiar with Peg Entwistle's story? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!