Such grave matters!
The anniversary of her death isn’t until September 18 (which happens to be the day after my birthday!) but the torrid tale of Peggy Entwistle (1908-1932) needs to be told now, especially since Turner Classic Movies is raising the curtain on her deadly co-star.
More about that later.
Though she died too young for any real critical assessment of her work, one thing’s for sure: Peggy could climb.
And climb she did, on September 18, when, after a night of heavy drinking, the Depression-era starlet made for the illuminated HOLLYWOODLAND sign. (The “LAND” section was officially removed in 1949.) Unhappy with the way her career was heading, she decided to go out in a way everyone would remember. Peg climbed up the slope to reach the sign, neatly folded her coat and placed it with her handbag at the base of a maintenance ladder. She climbed 50 feet up an electrician’s ladder to the top of the letter H, said farewell to the town that spurned her and took a dive while the 5,000 bulbs blinked HOLLYWOODLAND. Her fall was letter-perfect and she died instantly.
She jumped two days after the release of her only film, Thirteen Women.
The suicide note found in her handbag 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.” Since Peg didn’t sign the note, police didn’t know who the dead woman was. Peg’s note was published in several newspapers in the hope that someone would recognize the writing and initials. Indeed, it was her uncle who did travel to Hollywood where he identified her body in the morgue.
How was she to know that if she’d waited a few more days, she’d receive a letter offering her a starring role in a Beverly Hills Playhouse production . . . about a woman driven to suicide?
She was creamated and her ashes were buried in her father’s grave in the Ross family plot (Section 12, Lot 27, Grave 10) in Oak Hill Cemetery in Glendale, Ohio.
So where does Turner Classic Movies fit in?
TCM is jumping on the bandwagon to save the land surrounding the iconic HOLLYWOOD sign. TCM will help raise awareness for the Campaign to Save Cahuenga Peak through a multi-faceted plan that will also raise awareness for the first-ever TCM Classic Film Festival, which takes place in Hollywood April 22-25.
“The HOLLYWOOD sign is an iconic symbol known the world over, but the land surrounding it is in grave danger of being developed in a way that could destroy its appearance,” says TCM host Robert Osborne who by the way, loved my book, Morbid Curiosity: The Disturbing Demises of the Rich and Infamous.
“As we’re about to celebrate the history of Hollywood with our first-ever TCM Classic Film Festival, we are eager and proud to help preserve an important aspect of that history through this important initiative.”
The Campaign to Save Cahuenga Peak is an ongoing initiative to buy and preserve land surrounding the Hollywood sign. The Trust for Public Land, one of the partnering groups on the campaign, needs to raise $12.5 million by April 14 to buy the 138 acres on Cahuenga Peak, located behind and to the left of the “H” in the iconic sign.
For a woman who once posed topless, the nakes truth is that Peggy would be proud.
Peggy is proud.
Dead, but proud
(Photos from the Collection of Alan W. Petrucelli)
More about dead celebs! My book, MORBID CURIOSITY: The Disturbing Demises of the Famous and Infamous, has gotten rave reviews. from celebs not dead . . . yet.
“Alan has written a very funny, very clever book—it’s shocking and sinful, and I couldn’t put it down. He leaves no gravestone unturned, nothing buried. Morbid Curiosity is part Six Feet Under, part Mad magazine. It’ll make a killing!” — Joan Rivers
“Even celebrities die, and they do so in far more grand-scale ways than mere mortals. Now that they’ve met their maker, they’ve also found their chronicler, Alan W. Petrucelli. He unearths the demises of the rich and infamous—from Valentino to Heath Ledger and beyond—with detailed research, dishy wit and insight. This book is to die for!” — Michael Musto
“Morbid Curiosity is a cornucopia of Hollywood gossip and tidbits, much more humorous than macabre, delivered from a different point of view than any book I’ve read about celebs. It’s breezy, pithy, informative, odd and, despite its subject matter, certain to amuse.”— Robert Osborne, host of Turner Classic Movies