Starlite Drive-In

2560 Rosemead Boulevard,
South El Monte, CA 91733

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Starlite Drive-In - South El Monte, CA

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened in 1950, this was an all year operating drive-in theatre that had an 860 car capacity.

Since closing it has been used as a swap-meet. The screen was demolished in 1997 but the Art Deco style roadside marquee still stands.

Contributed by KenRoe

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 5, 2005 at 2:16 pm

The Starlite was designed by William Glenn Balch and Clifford A. Balch. I believe it opened in 1948 or 1949. It was the only drive-in I ever attended.

kencmcintyre on August 12, 2007 at 5:10 pm

Here is a February 1975 ad from the LA Times:

monika on March 17, 2008 at 9:20 am

Here are two photos of the Starlite, taken March 2008:
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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 15, 2008 at 9:02 pm

Although Southwest Builder and Contractor announced in the issue of June 13, 1947, that Clifford and William Balch were preparing the plans for this theater, it appears that the owners decided to go with another architect. The March 25, 1950, issue of Boxoffice Magazine said that the Starlite was scheduled for a May opening, and that it had been designed by Los Angeles architect J. Arthur Drielsma. The magazine said that the theater could accomodate 850 cars. The original owners and operators of the Starlite were Ford Bratcher, his brother Carl Bratcher, and Byron Congdon.

I wouldn’t call the style Art Deco. If anything, it was Art Moderne, with early Googie overtones.

DonSolosan on June 15, 2010 at 2:47 pm

According to a comment posted to one of the photos that Monika linked on 3/17/08, the snack bar still exists and is “vintage.” I stopped by today, but it wasn’t open and the gate was closed. The marquee is worth the visit however. I hate to see any theater marked as “closed/demolished” as long as there are still some features to see.

coweyhere on February 24, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Here is a photo of the marquee from February 2011:

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Chris Utley
Chris Utley on September 6, 2011 at 11:59 am

Allegedly, this place is ripe and ready for a rebirth. Nothing concrete, just rumblings…

Trunkrider on March 25, 2012 at 2:13 pm

I grew up less than a mile from this theater. Went there many times with my father in the 50’s. I loved it! Back then it was fairly common for cars to have spot lights on them. In between shows people would turn on their spots, and have “wars” on the screen with each other.As I recall prices were about $1.25 a “CAR LOAD.” When prices went to “Per Person” people would hide friends in the trunk and sneak them in. Those were fun times!

rduran on December 11, 2012 at 5:28 am

My family had a pottery shop next to the drive in. We lived there for years and could go to the back of our property and watch the movies.

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