A few days ago I was flipping through some old gardening magazines that I’ve had laying around for over a year when I came across a short article that talked about the origins of the drive-in theater.
I have some fond memories of watching movies at drive-in theaters when I was younger and I love looking at pictures of old drive-ins, so it prompted me to learn more about their history.
In what turned out to be quite the coincidence, I discovered that today is the 79th anniversary of the opening of the first drive-in theater in the United States. I also realized that the most recent Google Doodle was created to celebrate this anniversary.
The Origin of the Drive-In Theater
In 1933, a salesman from Camden, NJ named Richard Hollingshead came up with the idea for the drive-in theater when he set up a Kodak projector on his car, hung sheets on trees in his yard, and used a radio for sound.
After receiving a patent for his new invention, he opened the first official drive-in theater called the Automobile Movie Theater in Camden on June 6, 1933. The first movie that was shown that night was Wives Beware (1932) starring actor Adolphe Menjou.
The Washington Post has a nice article about this story that lists some interesting facts about drive-in theaters, and you can also view the animated Google doodle there.
My First Movie at a Drive-In Theater
Okay, I’m going to be totally dating myself here, but I also wanted to mention that the first movie I remember seeing at a drive-in theater was The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975), starring Don Knotts and Tim Conway, which I watched at a theater in Appleton, Wisconsin with my dad and sister.
A few years later we went to see a double feature of The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again (1979) and Freaky Friday (1976), and I remember being really bummed because I fell asleep during the second movie. My 9-year old self just couldn’t stay awake that late I guess. What I wouldn’t give to be able to go back and relive those days!
Do you remember the first (or any) movie that you saw at a drive-in theater? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comment section below or join me in a discussion on my Facebook page.