Peg Entwistle. The girl known for jumping from the Hollywood sign was not a failed actress.
This website was originally created to support the development of the stage musical from Crazyhouse Theatre Productions ‘Goodnight September’ which is loosely based on the life of actress Peg Entwistle. The show played its preview performances on Thursday 16th, Friday 17th and Saturday 18th October 2014 and became the company’s most successful show to date. Crazyhouse is the production company behind the shows ‘Drinking with Angelika’ (2010, 2011 and 2013), ‘Stories from the Crazyhouse’ (2013) and ‘Twenty Twenty Seven’ (2008, 2009 and 2012).
|Above: Agent’s publicity photos. 1932
Supplied by the New York Library or Performing Arts
Who was Peg Entwistle?
Peg’s short life was quite incredible. She was labelled a failure despite a successful career in theatre and appearing in ten shows in New York before the age of twenty-two as well as completing a play and a movie within six months of arriving in Hollywood; that is very impressive even by today’s standards. To most she is known as a symbol of Hollywood tragedy – a failed actress who ended her life by jumping from the Hollywood sign on September 16th 1932… She was just 24 at the time.
There seems to be a small amount of interest regarding the final years of her life and why she chose to end it in the way that she did, not much is said about where she came from. Although born in Port Talbot, Wales, she spent her early childhood living in the Baron’s Court area of London before moving to America at the age of 6.
Although officially English she lived and attended schools in New York and Los Angeles and easily settled into the American way of life. She appeared on stage for the first time aged 16 and was married by the time she was 18 to a man she had known for just 4 days. The marriage was short-lived and a burden to Peg for the remaining years of her life.
In July 2011, I visited the location of her London home in Comeragh Road and was surprised to find that the locals in the pub opposite had never heard her name and were unaware, and not that interested, in the potential star who had once lived within a stone’s throw of their community.
Peg in the 1931 play
Peg's childhood home. Comeragh Road, London in 2011
Peg’s life has been mentioned in a few low budget movies and was excellently covered in the Hope Anderson documentary ‘Under the Hollywood Sign‘ but I feel that there could be a lot more interest in Peg and I am surprised that her story has not already been told in a major Hollywood movie.
This production was different from my other shows; previous productions having been based within ‘make-believe’ scenarios where anything can be scripted for entertainment purposes. This show needed to be dramatised with additional characters and scenes for the production to work. I do not claim that it will be 100% authentic and accurate; there simply isn’t enough information out there and I didn’t expect my entire audience to share my interest in the purely factual details of Peg’s life and times…. although they did.
I wanted the members of the audience to leave the theatre with the awareness that Peg Entwistle was an inspirational and amazing young woman. Most of all I wanted to present Peg as an individual with an identity rather than the image that is portrayed historically as her simply being a failed actress. She achieved more in her short life than many other actresses do in a lifetime and was mentioned in Bette Davis’s autobiography as the reason Bette finally chose to take up acting… Bette Davis went on to inspire a generation. Once again Peg’s name was included in a theatre program and there was the opportunity for Peg to be admired and remembered some eighty years after her death… long after many others from her time are indeed long forgotten.
Theatrical songwriter and Artistic Director of Crazyhouse Theatre Productions.
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