Starlite Drive-In

4600 U.S. 45,
Eldorado, IL 62930

700 cars

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Starlite Drive-In Eldorado IL

Located halfway between Harrisburg and Eldorado, IL. The Starlite Drive-In had a ‘soft’ opening on October 10, 1952 with “Frontier Gal” and Aboott & Costello in “The Naughty Nineties”. It closed for the season in December 1952. It had its Grand Opening on April 3, 1953 with “Frenchie” and “Red Skies of Montana”. It was operated by the Turner-Farrar Circuit.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

dallasmovietheaters on August 7, 2015 at 9:44 am

The Starlite Drive-In was one of two Harrisburg area drive-ins neither within the city limits. The first was the Harrisburg Drive-In in Pankeyville and the second was this entry, the Starlite Drive-In for Turner-Farrar Theatres circuit. On the 17-acre tract was a drive-in accommodating 700 cars on 11 ramps. Landscaped with a 30 by 80 foot flower bed at the huge 68 foot high and 80 foot wide screen tower. The 45 foot a counter was a visual hit at the drive-in.

Because of myriad delays, the Starlite missed its spring and summer 1952 grand opening targets. Once finished, however, the theater decided to embark upon a shortened season opting for a soft launch on October 10, 1952 with “Frontier Gal” and Abbott and Costello’s “The Naughty Nineties.” The latter film featured one of the most famous versions of the comedy team’s “Who’s on First?” routine. Turner-Farrar even advertised in 1952 that the formal grand opening wouldn’t occur until the following spring. The drive-in closed for the season just two months later in December of 1952.

For its grand opening officially on April 3, 1953, the Starlite opened with the films, “Frenchie” and “Red Skies of Montana.” And fondly remembered by locals were the appearances by three ponies for free rides. Their names were Red, Koko and Gus which — along with the playground — made the Starlite family friendly. They were recurring features of the drive-in. Orchids were flown in from Hawaii via St. Louis for the first 1,000 ladies who showed up on opening night. And 1,700 total patrons would get in the first night. For most of years of operation, the Starlite was a May-October operation.

After decades of service, the drive-in was closed and then demolished. A feint outline can be seen in satellite shots at Highway 45 and Lindale halfway between Wasson and Eldorado.

Chris1982 on August 8, 2015 at 12:28 am

When did the Starlite close? I found three different dates.

jwmovies on September 21, 2016 at 1:37 am

A better address would be 4600 U.S. 45, Eldorado, IL 62930. This is the address for the equine center located where the drive entrance was from the highway. To the east of the center you can make out a couple of ramps.

Please update.

Kenmore on September 21, 2016 at 8:57 am

It appears that most of the land the drive-in was located on remains untouched. You can see the ramps and the foundations for the projection booth/concession stand and the screen.

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