About a year after Hollywood Reporter journalist Gary Baum profiled Angelyne, the mysterious billboard bombshell he describes as LA's "modern myth," a hobbyist genealogist contacted him claiming to have proof of a compelling back story: that she was born in Poland to Holocaust survivors. Now, also for the Hollywood Reporter, Baum unravels what he believes is likely the iconic blonde's true identity, publishing yearbook photos, marriage certificates, and more. The woman who's adorned hundreds of billboards across LA since the 1980s under the one-name pseudonym Angelyne—she's been called a precursor to other "famous for being famous" celebrities like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian—appears to have started off as Ronia Tamar Goldberg. She came to California in 1959 by way of Israel, and her mother died of cancer at the age of 44 when Goldberg, who upon arrival to LA became Renee, was just 14.
Baum reached out to Goldberg's alleged younger sister, now Annette Block, and her husband, as well as an ex-husband and a stepsister, all of whom are generally hazy on details if willing to talk at all. Angelyne, for her part, has gone on AirTalk with host Larry Mantle to claim that the story contains "a lot of inaccuracies" and that the "vindictive" piece can never change the fact that she is "not a woman" but "an icon." Indeed, she ran for mayor of Hollywood in 2008, per the Washington Post, and came in 28th out of 135 candidates; she also ran for governor of California in 2003 and, of course, has made numerous paid appearances at events and is the subject of a documentary. For now, the legend and sometimes-actress/singer who says she was orphaned at a young age and whose Hollywood start traces back to a 1974 porno tells Baum she wants to save her story for a memoir for "my own financial interest." (The Kardashians have erected an elaborate and bizarre business empire.)