Did Hollywood steal its sign idea from Mineral Wells?

Mineral Wells may have been inspiration for infamous 'Hollywood' sign

MINERAL WELLS -- For almost 100 years, the folks in Mineral Wells have been telling an unbelievably believable story.

“All I know is I’ve heard the legend about it," said Jack Powell, owner of the Ford dealership in town.

“I would tend to believe that it’s probably true," added Chamber of Commerce President Ryan Roach.

“No one’s ever really debunked it, so it’s possible it could’ve happened," Mineral Wells GIS Specialist Martin Buzbee said.

The story goes something like this: Hollywood director and producer D.W. Griffith was visiting Mineral Wells in the 1920s. He was standing on the roof of an old hotel when he looked up and saw the sign at the top of the hill that read, "Welcome."

He was so impressed that he went back to Hollywood and told everyone about it. And so it was that before the Hollywood Hills -- there was the Mineral Wells Hill.

“Mineral Wells had the sign first and Hollywood copied Mineral Wells," Rocha said.

Mineral Wells really did install its sign first -- in 1922. When the Hollywood version went up a year later in 1923, guess who was on the committee responsible for building it? That Hollywood director, D.W. Griffith.

But here's where the fairy tale falls apart. The only record that exists says Griffith did visit, but he was never in Mineral Wells before the Hollywood sign was built.

“He could’ve been," said Boyce Ditto library manager Palin Bree. "We don’t know all the visitors that came to Mineral Wells.”

Even if it's not true, does it really matter? Because just like the movies, this is one heck of a Hollywood story.

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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