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Hefner helps save Hollywood sign

The Hollywood sign, a beacon to stars and star-struck alike, has been saved from urban sprawl under a land conservation pact announced after a donation by the Playboy founder Hugh Hefner capped a multimillion-dollar fundraising drive.

"It's a symbol of opportunity and hope," said Arnold Schwarzenegger, the actor-turned Governor of California. "The Hollywood sign will welcome dreamers, artists and Austrian bodybuilders for generations to come."

The huge sign overlooking the city was in danger of having its distinctive setting on the slopes of the Santa Monica Mountains crowded by the construction of homes on nearby Cahuenga Peak. But a $900,000 (£590,000) donation from Mr Hefner, who helped save the sign itself 32 years ago, completed a $12.5m fundraising drive to protect 138 acres from development that would have altered the globally recognised symbol of the world's film and television capital. "My childhood dreams and fantasies came from the movies, and the images created in Hollywood had a major influence on my life and Playboy," Mr Hefner said. Ironically, the sign was originally erected in 1923 to promote a real estate development, with its 30ft-by-50ft letters spelling "Hollywoodland".