Thunderbird Drive-In

4910 Leopard Street,
Corpus Christi, TX 78408

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Thunderbird Drive-In

The Corpus Drive-In was opened in October 22, 1948 with Randolph Scott in “Coroner’s Creek”. It had a capacity for 300 cars. It was closed around 1958.

On October 1, 1967 it was reopened and renamed Thunderbird Drive-In. The car capacity was doubled to 600 cars. The opening program was Sean Connery in “You Only Live Twice” & Yul Brynner in “Return of the Seven”. True to its name, the Thunderbird Drive-In had a huge depiction of a “thunderbird” on the front side of the screen. It was closed in the mid-1980’s. It was demolished in May 1997.

Contributed by Don Lewis

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

Yakima1 on October 18, 2010 at 9:13 am

The Thunderbird opened under the name the Corpus Drive-in in Oct 22, 1948. Owned initially by Richter and Newman, it changed hands and changed names sometime in the 1960s. The Corpus was constructed of concrete and steel to replace the first drive-in in Texas, the Texas, which was made of wood in 1939, and was showing it’s age by 1948. The Corpus was located at 4910 Leopard across from where Leopard and Baldwin intersect. The Texas had been a few blocks down Leopard just past Navigation. The Texas (1939), the Boulevard (1942) and the Corpus (1948) operated together for Southwest Theaters, or perhaps Lonestar Amusement at the time, for a few weeks before the Texas was closed for good, having it’s last ad on Nov 5, 1948.

The first feature for the Corpus in 1948 was “Coroner’s Creek” with Randolph Scott.

The Corpus had a capacity of 300 cars until it changed to the Thunderbird with a capacity of 600 cars.

The Thunderbird stopped showing films in the mid 1980s and continued as a flea market for many years. It was the last screen standing in Corpus Christi when it was demolished in May of 1997 to make room for industrial businesses and warehouses. The concrete fence surrounding the perimeter of the drive-in still stands today around those industrial buildings. Pictures to come….

Yakima1 on October 31, 2010 at 7:09 pm

Here are some photos and newspaper ads for the Corpus aka Thunderbird…

View link

TenPoundHammer on May 7, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Okay, I think this is all of the Corpus DIs. Anyone wanna double-check it for me?

Boulevard 6520 SPID
Buccaneer 3033 S. Port
Gulf 4044 S. Port
Lexington (Capri) SPID @ Richter
Osage S. Staples St. @ Everhart
Surf 4609 Ayers
Texas 35xx Leonard
Thunderbird (Corpus) 4910 Leonard
Twin Palms 4701 Agnes
Viking Twin 4841 S. Staples

TenPoundHammer on May 7, 2011 at 2:57 pm

My bad. Viking Twin was 5333 Ayers and Osage was 4841 S. Staples.

Yakima1 on May 7, 2011 at 3:23 pm

The Boulevard was at SPID (Lexington and Richter)
The Lexington (aka 62nd at Lexington, aka Capri, aka Bel-aire) was at 6210 SPID (Lexington)
Osage was indeed Staples at Everhart,which at the time was 4841 Staples
The Texas and The Corpus (Thunderbird) were on Leopard not Leonard
There was also a Cuddihy Drive-In out near Cuddihy Field.

Silicon Sam
Silicon Sam on May 7, 2011 at 5:14 pm

Texas should be 53xx, instead of 35xx Leopard.

TenPoundHammer on May 7, 2011 at 6:12 pm

Corrected that for Texas' listing. All the DI’s in Corpus now have entries here, except for Cuddihy â€" Yakima, where did you hear of this one? I can’t find any other mention of it.

Yakima1 on May 7, 2011 at 7:52 pm

The Cuddihy Drive-in Theatre had it’s grand opening August 30, 1947 screening ‘Frontier Gal’ per an ad in the local Corpus Christi Caller Times. It’s ads in the local paper didn’t last too long, stopping by Nov 11, 1947. The ads said that it was at Cuddihy Field. I can’t find evidence that it was actually part of Cuddihy Field, but a drive-in scar can be detected near the Air Field in 1956 Google Earth imagery at 27°43'28.08"N 97°29'41.19"W. The fall of 1947 corresponds to a time when this WWII Navy air-field was turned over to the city and was being transformed for other uses. The very first University of Corpus Christi campus opened there at the same time, but it didn’t last too long at that location either.

Yakima1 on May 7, 2011 at 8:15 pm

Here are some ads and the Google imagery for the Cuddihy.
View link

I have similar links and detailed information for each of the Corpus Christi drive-ins and several more surrounding area drive-ins. I just haven’t had time lately to play with this hobby.

Yakima1 on May 7, 2011 at 8:36 pm

I have updated my Corpus Drive-in aka Thunderbird Drive-in link with an artcile about the re-opening as Thunderbird in 1967. Johnny Blocker purchased and refurbished the old Corpus Drive-in theater and re-christened it Thunderbird Drive-in for it’s Oct 1, 1967 grand opening. The Corpus had stopped advertising in 1958. It could have possibly continued Spanish language films after 1958, but the local papers did not advertise the Spanish language drive-ins until the sometime in the 1960s.

View link

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