Starlite Drive-In

6400 W. 95th Street,
Oak Lawn, IL 60453

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Essaness Theaters Corp., Kohlberg Theaters

Nearby Theaters

STARLITE  Drive-In Theatre; Chicago Ridge, Illinois.

Located in the Oak Lawn district, the Starlite Drive-In had one screen and was opened September 3, 1948 with Cornel Wilde in “The Walls of Jericho”. The original screen was blown down by the tornado of April, 1967. It had a playground at the base of the screen. It also was open year round and had propane beehive type heaters, but you used your driver’s license as collateral. They also owned the giant fiberglass slide out by the marquee along with a go-kart track. For a couple of years they rented snowmobiles in the winter to run up and down the long driveway.

I worked at the Starlite Drive-In from 1967 to 1971 on the weekends. My uncle was the assistant manager for the Starlite Drive-In and the indoor Studio Theater next door. My pay was $1.25 per hour. I have a million memories and not enough space here to tell all.

It was closed at the end of the 1979 season and demolished in 1980. The Chicago Ridge Mall was built on the site, which also contained the Chicago Ridge 1-2-3 theatre (today the AMC Chicago Ridge 6)

Contributed by Todd Hill

Recent comments (view all 18 comments)

tcb on July 3, 2013 at 4:12 am

Yep. The entrance was probably about where that new traffic light was put up at the far west side mall entrance on 95th street right next to the bar which has been there forever (including when the Starlight was still there). Speaking of memories of the Starlight and the Studio I remember seeing Jerry G Bishop, in person as the original Svengoolie, at the Studio on Halloween eve 1970. He was a DJ on either WLS or WCFL and also doubled as Svengoolie on channel 32 when they were just a fledgling station on UHF. They were not part of Fox at that time. They were WFLD (FieLD Communications). Man those were the days!

cyamonday on September 22, 2015 at 5:36 am

there was an A&P and a Terrys there….my mom would go there with her car full of kiddies back in the 60’s….i remember it was a treat cuz the stores were both real big (to us !!) i remember the tornado of ‘67…blew down the drive-in, part of the high school there and part of St Gerald’s school too.

rivest266 on November 11, 2016 at 8:34 am

This opened on September 3rd, 1948. Its grand opening ad can be found in the photo section.

davidcoppock on November 14, 2018 at 7:17 am

Opened with “The walls of Jericho”.

DavidZornig on June 21, 2020 at 7:32 pm

Address was 6400 West 95th Street per the print ads in the gallery.

MichaelKilgore on March 24, 2021 at 10:41 pm

Variety, Jan. 12, 1955: “Chicago, Jan 11 - Essaness interest in the Starlite Drive-In here has been bought by a syndicate headed by Stanton Kohlberg. Kohlberg has operated the suburban ozoner in the past in conjuction with the Essaness circuit. Starlite has been a strong drive-in competitor in this area with frequent gimmick shows and often as many as six features on a single bill.”

Maddog812 on April 13, 2021 at 3:05 am

Talk about gimmicks, in the late 60’s- early 70’s my uncle would put on a freak show in a sectioned off area in the consession stand, with caskets with skeletons in them, morbid deformed babies in big glass jugs filled with formaldehyde and other wierd stuff. Of course there was a extra fee.

MichaelKilgore on April 28, 2021 at 8:26 pm

Boxoffice, Feb. 22, 1960: “Four gasoline pumps, each with a 10,000-gallon tank, have been installed at the Starlite Drive-In at Chicago by Stanford Kohlberg, owner-operator, where patrons may fill up at a savings of 12 cents a gallon below the prevailing station price. Most patrons may fill up, that is, since there is a limit of 15 gallons with each ticket. Free battery, tire and towing service is included.”

JP on August 13, 2021 at 3:45 pm

In 1957 or 1958 the Starlite had a raffle where a pony was the prize. Herbert Polchow, the mayor of Chicago Ridge won it and kept it at his home for awhile. The horse was living at that location when my family moved into the Ridge in 1958. Our house was less than 100 yards from that location. My Grandma noticed that a neighborhood kid was riding a horse before my mother did. Mom did not believe it at first, did not question anything Grandma said after that.

50sSNIPES on September 20, 2022 at 4:35 pm

The Starlite closed at the end of the 1979 season. It was demolished the following year to make way for the site of the Chicago Ridge Mall which also housed the Chicago Ridge 1-2-3 (now known as AMC Chicago Ridge 6) which opened on July 31, 1981.

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