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Drive In Theater Trivia

Drive-In Movie Theaters were a feature of the 1950s

Entertainment History

A great icon of this first era of rock and roll was the drive-in movie theater. America was on the move; you could gather up the kids, drive, park, and watch a movie from your car. The kids could wear pajamas. You could take along blankets and pillows. Food and drinks were at a concession stand – if you hadn’t provided your own. If you were a teen, it was an ideal date (no more said). It was part of American car culture.

At their simplest, drive-in theaters were an outdoor movie screen, a projection booth, a parking lot, and a snack bar.

Here’s some trivia:

  • Drive-ins had been around since the 1930s but became popular in the 1950s and 1960s.
  • Richard M. Hollingshead, Jr., of Camden, New Jersey created the first drive-in by mounting a film projector onto his car’s hood and showing movies on a screen that he nailed to trees in his backyard.
  • Sound first came out through speakers on the screen. Following that there were speakers you could hang on each car. Then the sound could be broadcast and picked up by a car radio.
  • By 1955 there were about 5,000 drive-in theaters in the U.S. Now there are approximately 350.
  • Drive-ins ranged from small ones that accommodated 50 cars up to the largest ones for 3,000 cars.
  • Texas offered gallop-ins, where you could watch from your horse. There were also fly-ins, where pilots could land at an airfield not far away and taxi the plane to the last row.
  • The slang term “passion pit” refers to drive-in theaters, but it was a great make-out place for adolescents.
  • The drive-in allowed movies to compete with TV.
  • The popularity of drive-ins faded as land increased in value and it no longer made economic sense to have a theater there. Also, more states adopted Daylight Savings Time, which meant a late start while you waited for a dark sky.


1 Comment

  1. Adrienne says:

    I love drive-in movies — and remember the passion pit very well. Thanks for the trivia. If history class were ever this interesting… Well, thanks for all the 1950s music, too.

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