If the Hollywood sign and Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame could talk, they’d be star witnesses. California’s attorney general has charged the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce with diverting as much as $400,000 in royalties earmarked for trusts aimed at maintaining the historic landmarks. ”These are national symbols, part of Hollywood’s heritage to be enjoyed by all Americans as beneficiaries of these trusts,” says Hollywood preservation activist Edward Cohan, who lives near the graffiti-festooned 45-by-450-foot sign.
In 1978, a chamber save-the-sign campaign drew donations from celebs, including Hugh Hefner, Gene Autry, and rocker Alice Cooper, who gave $27,700 for a new ”O” in honor of Groucho Marx. Subsequently the trusts grew rich with license fees from chamber-held trademarks, making money off every mug, key chain, and T-shirt depicting the Hollywood sign or a Walk of Fame star. Now facing the loss of all landmark revenue, the chamber would comment only through its attorney, Daniel Kolkey: ”When you eliminate the role of private charities in community enhancement, you are left with the deficit-ridden public sector.” Right.