Starlite Drive-In

20201 US-50,
Rocky Ford, CO 81067

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Starlite Drive-In

The Starlight Drive-In was opened on March 26, 1953 with June Allyson in “The Girl in White”. It was operated by by Server & Downing. Later taken over by Gibralter Enterprises Inc. and finally on June 22, 1962 by Commonwealth Theatres, it was closed on September 26, 1976 when the screen tower was destroyed.

Robert Kehn (February 12th, 1937-November 9th, 2015) was the projectionist in the 1950’s.

Contributed by Anthony L. Vazquez-Hernandez

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

Kenmore
Kenmore on November 18, 2015 at 6:45 am

Found it! The drive-in was located at 28939 County Road 20.5, Rocky Ford, CO. on the east side of the town. Today, the entrance area is occupied by an industrial park, but the actual drive-in location in the back is fairly empty with no trace save for the general outline. http://tinyurl.com/ortzu4l

jwmovies
jwmovies on February 14, 2019 at 3:47 am

A more accurate address for this theater is 20201 US-50, Rocky Ford, CO 81067. This points directly to the entrance road. The entrance road for the businesses that took over the drive in is in the same position as the original entrance road for this theater.

Please update.

MichaelKilgore
MichaelKilgore on September 16, 2019 at 8:10 pm

The Starlite’s first appearance in the Theatre Catalog was the 1953-54 edition, capacity 400, owners Sever and Downing.

Starlite appearances in the Motion Picture Almanac’s drive-in lists:

  • 1953-54: 400, C. Downing & A. C. Sever
  • 1955-63: 400, Gibralter Circuits (AKA Gibralter Enterprises, Inc., in the MPA circuit list)
  • 1964-66: 400, Gibralter Circuits (but included in Commonwealth's circuit entry)
  • 1967-76: 400, (no owner info, but included in Commonwealth's circuit entry)
  • 1977-78: 300, Commonwealth
  • 1979-82: 300, Commonwealth (but dropped from Commonwealth's holdings in its circuit entry)
  • 1983: off the list
MichaelKilgore
MichaelKilgore on September 17, 2019 at 8:27 am

In August 1952, trade publications wrote that “Sever, Downing and Sever” were building a drive-in, which one said was going to be named the Valley. But the first true opening announcement was in the April 4, 1953 Motion Picture Herald: “Carl Downing and A. C. Silver (sic) have opened their new Starlite drive-in, Rocky Ford, Colo.”

The date when Gibralter, a loose confederation of independent regional owners, bought the Starlite is still fuzzy, but Commonwealth bought it from Gibralter effective June 22, 1962, based on an article in the July 2, 1962 issue of Boxoffice.

MichaelKilgore
MichaelKilgore on February 12, 2020 at 11:55 am

Based on its ads and stories in the Rocky Ford Daily Gazette-Topic, The Starlite held its grand opening on Thursday, March 26, 1953, with all ticket sales going to the Pioneer Memorial Hospital Fund. (They raised $245.70.) The first program was “The Girl in White” with short subjects “Thar She Blows,” “Fly Thru the Air,” and “Little Wise-Quacker.” The owners were listed as A. C. Sever, Carl Downing, and S. A. Sever.

MichaelKilgore
MichaelKilgore on June 23, 2020 at 2:27 pm

Considering the Motion Picture Almanac dates above, this was probably the end. Boxoffice, April 18, 1977: “Erratic weather patterns created a dust storm with high winds which destroyed the screen tower of the Starlite Drive-In, Rocky Ford, and partially destroyed the tower in the LaJunta Drive-In.”

MichaelKilgore
MichaelKilgore on July 13, 2020 at 12:39 pm

The Starlight’s final ad before its screen tower was destroyed was in the Sept. 24, 1976 issue of the Rocky Ford Daily Gazette. Since that ad didn’t specify which days the shows would run, my guess for its final night would be Sunday, Sept. 26. The program was “Born to Kill” and “Jackson County Jail”.

A quick check of the July 11, 1977 Daily Gazette showed ads for indoor theaters (the Grand and the Fox), and the La Junta drive-in (which must have repaired its screen), but not the Starlight.

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