Timeline: Key moments in the career of Angelyne, L.A.'s billboard icon

·7 min read
ME.ONLYLA.1.0130.RM.c Angelyne billboard at the intersection of Las Palmas Avenue and Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles. The head portion of the billboard has fallen down leaving behind Angelyne's breasts to titillate passerbyers. Photographed on 1-30-97. Rick Meyer/LAT THURSDAY FOLDER Mandatory Credit: Rick Meyer/The LA Times
A tattered Angelyne billboard at the intersection of Las Palmas Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard in 1997. (Rick Meyer / Los Angeles Times)

Peacock's new series "Angelyne," starring Emmy Rossum as the neon-blond impresario of the title, may be based on work by the Hollywood Reporter's Gary Baum. But the real-life Angelyne, known across L.A. for her striking billboards and bright-pink Corvette, has never limited herself when it comes to publicity.

We at The Times have caught up with her regularly over the years, from the set of "Earth Girls Are Easy" in 1987 to her (most recent) run for governor in 2021, and what comes through in each dispatch is her hold on the city's imagination: As David L. Ulin wrote in 2019, after the Peacock series was announced, "She’s a Los Angeles original, a vivid signifier of the place and how it operates. Image, her presence tells us, isn’t frivolous; it has substance, especially here."

With Thursday's premiere of "Angelyne," we've decided to round up that archival coverage into this not-at-all-exhaustive timeline of her career. Happy reading.

1981: When Angelyne 'first started getting famous,' according to Angelyne

In a May 1987 profile, the star traces her career to a "previous manager [who] papered Hollywood with 2-by-3-foot posters of Angelyne. Then her current manager began buying up billboards and plastering even larger portraits of the would-be star around town. One billboard made it into the opening montage of the ‘Moonlighting’ television show; another picture was featured in National Geographic magazine — 'Just me! I’m part of the Hollywood scenery!' she said with a laugh."

1996 marked the 15th anniversary of Angelyne's billboards, joining several other notable American birthdays that year, according to The Times — including Harley-Davidson, Frederick's of Hollywood and the National Enquirer.

1980s: The rise of Angelyne

A 2002 profile sums up her fame — if not exactly her business model: "Since the 1980s, billboards have gone up on the Sunset Strip, La Brea Avenue and other famed corridors advertising Angelyne’s name, canyon-like cleavage and phone number. If curious motorists call that number, they’ll reach Angelyne Management, where she has several full-time employees dedicated to selling the sizzle to her steak.

“An actress with a handful of screen credits, including “Earth Girls Are Easy,” Angelyne has become an L.A. icon through her billboards. They have had a better film career than she has, appearing in “Get Shorty” and “Volcano” as well as TV’s “The Simpsons,” “Moonlighting” and “Futurama.” She claims a fan club of more than 22,000 and has appeared in magazines from National Geographic to People. Angelyne is also an occasional pitch woman for the La Brea Chevrolet dealership, which sells Corvettes."

The back of a pink Corvette with a California license plate reading ANGLYNE.
The rear of Angelyne's famous pink Corvette, with vanity license plate, in 2007. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

June 1987: An Angelyne mural runs afoul of the city's new 'visual pollution' ordinance

Among about 500 people cited was the painter a mural of Angelyne on the side of a building near Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, for failing to secure approval from the city’s Cultural Affairs Commission: "The mural was commissioned by an actress calling herself Angelyne — she refuses to give her last name — to attract job offers."

September 1987: Catching up with 'the Patron Saint of a certain side of L.A.'

“I loathe the heat," Angelyne tells The Times from the set of "Earth Girls Are Easy." "I’m a pampered pussycat and I don’t like to be uncomfortable.”

April 1995: Novelist Ajay Sahgal goes in search of the real Angelyne — and documents his failure

"Other rumors: Angelyne has a rich Turkish boyfriend who pays for all her billboards. Some people say it’s an Arab sheik. She’s dated Charlie Sheen. She’s dated Madonna. She is mobbed by adoring fans and Japanese tourists wherever she goes. She lives in Studio City. She lives in Beverly Hills. She’s a Scientologist. She’s a lesbian. She’s a man. The rumors can’t possibly all be true."

August 2002: Angelyne moves from the billboard to the ballot

"Angelyne, the age-concealing actress who has appeared in the film 'Earth Girls Are Easy' and a Moby music video, filed her candidacy papers Friday, along with 19 other council contenders [in the proposed city of Hollywood]. The documents included a statement that said she has no reportable assets, despite those billboards of her that began popping up in the 1980s. In an interview, she insisted she is serious about making Hollywood better: 'I’m Angelyne. I’m the image of Hollywood. I want Hollywood to rise to my occasion.'"

A blond woman in high heels steps out of a pink Corvette.
Angelyne meets supporters at a bar in West Hollywood during her 2003 run for governor of California. (Hector Mata / AFP via Getty Images)

August 2003: Angelyne files papers to run in gubernatorial recall election

"Among the last to join a crowd of would-be governors that already featured Hustler magazine boss Larry Flynt and billboard pinup Angelyne were a travel agent, a sitcom writer, a structural engineer, a sumo wrestler and radio personality Jim 'Poorman' Trenton, who called his campaign 'a good way to meet women.'"

"Running on the campaign slogan, 'We’ve had Gray, we’ve had Brown, now it’s time for some blond and pink,'" The Times remembered in a 2007 story, "she finished 28th."

March 2008: Angelyne joins the race for honorary mayor of Hollywood

"Bodacious billboard queen Angelyne wants to become the next star of Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. Not with a bronze plaque embedded in Hollywood Boulevard’s terrazzo sidewalk. But as the person who presides over Tinseltown’s biggest tourist tradition. Civic leaders are searching for a new honorary mayor who can help choose Walk of Fame honorees and then stage glitzy star unveilings in a way that makes celebrities and onlookers alike feel special.

“Longtime Honorary Mayor Johnny Grant had that knack during the 28 years he helped run the Walk of Fame and emceed its sidewalk ceremonies for the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. He died Jan. 9 at age 84. Though the selection could be months away, three front-runners have emerged: Angelyne, longtime Hollywood radio personality Gary Owens and 'Let’s Make a Deal' game-show host Monty Hall."

May 2008: Angelyne wins legal tussle with W Hotel

"As part of a legal settlement with developers of the W Hotel project near Hollywood and Vine, the Tinseltown icon will maintain the same business address she has used for the last 19 years — despite the fact that it was destroyed by the wrecking ball... Angelyne charged that the agency and developers left her stuck with thousands of photos, posters and other 'Angelyne Fan Club' materials imprinted with the defunct Selma Street mailing address."

Angelyne posing before two paintings of herself in a pink office.
Angelyne inside her Hollywood office in 2009. She made the acrylic self-portrait at left; Scott Hennig made the painting at right. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

August 2009: Or did she?

"[Angelyne] alleges that the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency reneged on a promise to let her keep her longtime mailing address after evicting her to make way for a new Hollywood luxury hotel project. As a result, fan mail is being stamped 'return to sender' and is not delivered....

“‘I get at least 10 letters a day from people wanting my merchandise,’ Angelyne said. ‘But then it stopped. Finally one fan saw me in person and mentioned that his letter had been returned to him.' After that, she and an assistant mailed a series of test letters to the Selma address. All were sent back as undeliverable by the post office — which routinely forwards mail for a maximum of one year.

“Two weeks ago, Angelyne complained to the redevelopment agency and demanded it pay $403,566 so that photos, posters and other promotional materials bearing the old Selma address can be reprinted. She also asked for $50,000 in compensation for loss of business."

August 2021: Angelyne runs for governor (again)

"I knew as a 3-year-old that I could run the world and do a great job," Angelyne tells The Times in response to our meet-the-candidates questionnaire. "So why not California? I’m already Queen of the Universe, so governor is a piece of cake."

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.