Thunderbird Drive-In

3501 Hamilton Avenue,
St. Louis, MO 63120

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Thunderbird Drive-In

The layout for the Thunderbird Drive-In was strange in that even though the drive-in was on Hamilton Avenue the entrance was actually on Natural Bridge Road. It was located between the popular Goody Goody Restaurant and a liquor store. The entrance stretched a block long before you actually got to the box office.

It was a 450 car drive-in that opened July 3, 1959 with Marilyn Monroe in “Some Like It Hot” & Gary Cooper in “Man of the West”. It was operated by Mid America Theatres. With the changing of the demographics of the neighborhood the Thunderbird Drive-In played kung-fu and “blaxploitation” features toward the end. The theatre closed in October 1977.

Contributed by Chuck Van Bibber

Recent comments (view all 23 comments)

Ptah on April 23, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Chris Utley… I realize that this is a relaxed forum… But posting a link to Facebook and what is generally considered to be a historical collage of bits and pieces is not considered to be an archive… The reference doesn’t have to be parenthetical but it does have to have some element of reference to the topic. Many have honed in on “2001 A Space Odyssey” it was released around April of 1968… Which would’ve certainly shone up in the drive-ins by August of that same year.

I assume when you say that there are tons of references to the Thunderbird Drive-In… You must mean in the terms of coming from “bizarro world” (a Superman reference) in which there is absolutely zero gravity in weight of references to the Thunderbird Drive-In… Or perhaps this is opposite day… When up is down… And left his right… Unless your link has been redacted or altered in some way there is absolutely no reference to the Thunderbird Drive-In… That I can see with my physical eyes… Perhaps I should try transcendental meditation… or soul travel… Or should I look with a divining rod… Or perhaps a seeing-eye dog…umm how about carbon dating….

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on June 22, 2012 at 10:50 am

Just say no…

Anyway, the FB site has been stripped of its content because the owner did not want to switch to the new “Timeline” format. In the 2 ½ years since your previous comment, the folks on this forum both visited the former page and verified its content before the page was stripped.

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on October 5, 2012 at 8:20 pm

Well…the owner of the aforementioned FB page had a change of heart. Here’s the new link:!/groups/204180702979678/

I DARE anybody to find 2001 ads in the Thunderbird section!

Noir on September 14, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Great place. The drive up to it seemed narrow and long. I remember almost an entirely African-American audience from 1972-1974.Before that it is vague. I remember the films with black stars—I do not remember what we saw—-Shaft, Superfly, Grier, Buck and the Preacher, …

This area was completely surrounded by a majority African-American community and you could access it from black areas with out passing through non-black areas via Highway 70 to Goodfellow, drive down Natural Bridge from Union or Kingshighway, drive from Kienlen…safe physical access mattered.

It was called “The Bird.”
Being from the city, Thunderbird was a drink, like Rosie O'Grady, Freight Train,or Brass Monkey.

Next door: I liked the Goody Goody Restaurant. I liked Sam the Watermelon man There was a liquor store across the street. I love Skateking in 1970’s 1980’s and 1990’s—-real DJ’s, real mixes, real dancing with couples, Soul Train line on skates, flips and jumps, slow songs, fast songs a real vibrant sycopated dance floor. Fabulous urban line dancing on skates—you name it. Christian nite, old school for elders night and so on. Groups use to travel from Skateking to other rinks around the country—New York, Atlanta, Detroit—-and people use to ask—elsewhere —about Skateking. Tom Casevelli Ford was there on Goodfellow. Old reserve Army Barracks and Small Ammunition plant.

After thunderbird closed,
North Twin was the only drive-in left within range.

rivest266 on February 27, 2016 at 8:36 am

July 3rd, 1959 grand opening ad in photo section.

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on August 25, 2016 at 11:29 am

Surely some current/former StL resident has a pic of the tall, vertical neon sign of the actual Thunderbird entrance which was located next to Goody Goody.

JAlex on August 25, 2016 at 1:52 pm

It’s always been interesting on Cinema Treasures how correct information is integrated into the description with no credit given to the contributor.

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on August 25, 2016 at 2:16 pm

All those who contributed info should receive proper credit…even that which was edited years later. JAlex has been a beneficial resource for correcting inaccurate St. Louis area theatre info and should be credited.

davidcoppock on November 5, 2018 at 6:00 pm

Opened with “Some like it hot” and “Man of the west”. Site is now Alberici Constructors.

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