In Search Peg Entwistle
Lillian Millicent "Peg" Entwistle was born in Wales
in 1908 to a family in the acting profession and spent her childhood
living in London England. Her mother died when Peg was very young. Peg’s
father decided that they should move to New York and the father found work
there in a theater. Peg had another unfortunate incident in her early years.
Her father died suddenly one day when he was hit by a truck on Park Avenue.
Peg’s brothers were sent to live with their uncle, and Peg struck out on her
own as an actress at the age of 17.
The beautiful Peg became a star of
Broadway as she became a hit with the audiences. While working on Broadway,
Peg married an actor named Robert Keith. The marriage quickly went down hill
as they fought about his bad debts, and lies. Her husband owed back child
support, for a son from a previous marriage that Peg had known nothing
about. This son her husband owed child support for was Brian Keith, who
later played Uncle Bill in the television show Family Affair. Brian
Keith later committed suicide in 1997. The marriage of Peg and Robert soon
ended in divorce.
Peg tried to return to her Broadway career but it was the
era of the American Depression and Peg and Broadway did not do too well. Peg
decided that she would try to get into motion pictures and headed off to
California. She would live with her uncle in Beachwood Canyon in a house
located under the huge Hollywoodland sign. The sign is perched on top of
Mount Lee, the tallest peak in Los Angeles. This was the original Hollywood
sign that still stands today with the shortened Hollywood. She got a part in
a play that included Humphrey Bogart and Billie Burke who later played the
good witch in the Wizard of Oz. but the play only ran for a week and a half
before closing. She did do other plays but nothing became of it. When she
got a part in an RKO film called "Thirteen Women" she thought her luck had
turned and this would be the start of something big. The movie was not a big
hit despite her good acting. The length of the movie was cut and her role in
it became very minor. Her luck had changed, but from bad to worse. She tried
for small time parts and went to numerous auditions and casting calls trying
to get any acting work that she could. Then her short term contract with RKO
ran out and was not renewed. She was on her own and couldn’t find any work
even in the theater. Her friends started to desert her and she was broke.
The beautiful young actress was badly depressed as she sensed her career was
done. On the night of September 18, 1932, she told her uncle that she was
going for a walk to meet some friends at the drug store. She climbed her way
up the tough, steep, hill through the brush to the Hollywoodland sign. She
took off her coat, folded it neatly, and placed it with her purse at the
base of the maintenance ladder which led up the letter H. She then climbed
up the ladder to the top of the 50 foot letter H and jumped to her death
down the hill to the rocks and brush below, dying at the age of 24.
that was hiking found the coat and purse and discovered a suicide note which
read " I am afraid I am a coward. I am sorry for everything. If I had done
this a long time ago it would have saved a lot of pain. P.E." The hiker took
the coat, purse and note to the Hollywood police station, left it on the
steps and made the following phone call to police "I was hiking near the Hollywoodland sign today and near the bottom I found a woman's shoe and
jacket. A little further on I noticed a purse. In it was a suicide note. I
looked down the mountain and saw a body. I don't want any publicity in this
matter, so I wrapped up the jacket, shoes and purse in a bundle and laid
them on the steps of the Hollywood Police Station." Peg’s body was
discovered two days later in the brush at the base of Mount Lee. Here’s the
ironic part. Two days later Pegs uncle opened a letter addressed to Peg from
the Beverly Hills Playhouse. It was mailed the day before she jumped. In it
was an offer for her to play the lead role in their next play, It would be a
role where her character commits suicide in the final act.
In the following years, hikers and later park
rangers would report very strange happenings in the area around the
Hollywood sign known as Griffith Park. Many people have reported sightings
of a woman dressed in 1930’s era clothing who vanishes when approached. She
has been described as a very attractive, blond woman, who seems very sad.
There are also many cases of people being overwhelmed with the smell of
gardenia perfume which was known to be Peg’s favorite perfume.
Alarm systems have since been set up around the
sign to stop vandals and anyone wanting to follow Pegs example to commit
suicide. The alarm system uses motion detectors, lights, infra-red cameras
and radar-activated zoom lenses to keep intruders away. Many times the alarm
system indicated that someone was around the sign and when checked, nothing
was found.One ranger had instances where he was
out there and the alarm system was telling him there was someone five feet
away from him. No one was there.
In 1990, a man, his girlfriend and their dog were
walking on a trail near the Hollywood sign. The dog suddenly began to act
very strange. He seemed to be frightened, whining, and staying in back of
the couple as though he wanted to go back the way they came. They had never
seen him act that way before and couldn’t understand what was wrong. Then
they spotted a lady walking nearby. She was wearing clothing from the
1930’s. She seemed very strange and walked as though in a daze. They kept
away from her but kept watching her wondering what was the cause of her
strange behavior. Suddenly she faded away before their eyes.
Known as the ghost of the Hollywood sign, in death
Peg Entwistle finally has the fame she sought in life. Her death completely
overshadowed any of the merits she may have had as an actress in life. To
read more about Peg Entwistle and the Hollywood sign, visit the following