April 27, 2010; Source: Los Angeles Times | In Hollywood, they’re singing “Hooray for Hugh Hefner.” A $900,000 gift from the founder of Playboy helped the Trust for Public Land (TPL) reach its $12.5 million goal to buy 138 acres of land, where the famous HOLLYWOOD sign has stood for decades. TPL had been leading the year-long campaign to save the sign from being bulldozed so that luxury homes could be built on the mountain top land.

Commenting on his gift, Hefner said, “It’s like saying let’s build a house in the middle of Yellowstone Park. There are some things that are more important. The Hollywood sign represents the dreams of millions. It’s a symbol. It is as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris. It represents the movies.” As a result of Hefner’s gift, the Tiffany & Co. Foundation and Aileen Getty made good on their pledge to donate another $500,000—on top of the $1 million each gave to launch the campaign—if the Trust could raise the final million dollars it needed for the land purchase.

Other Hollywood celebrities, such as Steven Speilberg and Tom Hanks, contributed an additional $3.2 million to the campaign, while many other individuals gave online, with donations coming from as far away as Norway and Japan. According to the Los Angeles Times, about $5.7 million of the money to purchase the land is from state and local funds earmarked to purchase space for parks.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had been an early supporter of the effort to save the park where the sign stands, attended a news conference to announce that the money had been raised. He said the Hollywood sign is a “symbol of dreams and a symbol of opportunity and hope.”

Commenting on the success of the campaign, Sam Hodder, TPL’s California state director, said, “This is the optimum makeup of philanthropy. It’s been embraced by such a broad spectrum of interest.”—Bruce Trachtenberg