Tulsa TV Memories      

      In association with the
The American Institute of Drive-In Archeology

Tulsa TV Memories presents:    

Tulsa-area Drive-In Theatres

Opening night ads, historical data, and some
pictures provided by Wesley Horton, AIDA curator

The drive-ins with links below have their own separate pages. The rest are on this page.

  • Admiral Twin Drive-In (originally the Modernaire) is at 7355 E. Easton, the only Tulsa drive-in still in operation. Out of service 9/3/2010-6/14/2012 due to fire; now with new screen and concession stand!
  • Airview at 7500 E. Pine St.
  • Apache at 3700 E Apache
  • Bellaire at 709 W. 51st St.
  • Capri Drive-In (originally the Sand Springs) at 7600 W. Charles Page Blvd.
  • 11th Street (originally the Hi-Way 66) at 9801 E. 11th St.
  • 51 Drive-In (originally the Broken Arrow) at 14007 71st St. NE
  • Riverside, east of Peoria on 71st St.
  • Sheridan Drive-In at 4500 S. Sheridan
  • Skyline at 3800 N. Cincinnati
  • Teepee, one mile west on Highway 66.
  • Cardinal at N. Memorial and State Hwy 20 in Collinsville.

Related pages on this site:


Tulsa's drive-in theatres were built in the late 40s-early 50s, just before television took hold as a mass medium (our first station, KOTV, began broadcasting in late 1949).

Drive-ins combine the pleasures of both at-home TV and sit-down theatre viewing: low expense and privacy, plus an evening out and other folks to keep an eye on.

Despite the advent of home theatre and myriad channels in addition to broadcast television, drive-ins retain a unique charm, especially when they remind us of summer evenings past, spent in a secure environment under the stars.


See the locations of all Tulsa-area drive-ins, past and present online in Google Maps. You can tour the current day sites by switching to satellite view and zooming in, or zoom all the way down to Street View to take a virtual "drive".

The Tulsa World, July 7, 1948
Apache Drive-In (courtesy of Wes Horton)

(IMPA=International Motion Picture Almanac)

Wesley: "As far as I know, there were only two drive-in theatres in the state that ever advertised that they were 'Colored'".

Location: 3604 E. Apache (1971 Tulsa City directory), N 36.19136 W 95.937304

(Webmaster: I copied and pasted the above coordinates directly into Google Earth, and landed exactly on the spot in the satellite photo below.)

1948-49 Theatre Catalog/IMPA lists L.E. Snyder as exec. or owner 1948-1979.
1965 IMPA lists capacity as 225.

Closed by June 1984, presumably end of 1983 season.

Google Earth satellite view of the former Apache site. Tulsa Community College to the north.
Remains of the Apache

Theater Marquee 2
What was left of the marquee, courtesy of citizenkerr

The Apache Drive-In Theater on September 10, 1967
The Apache Theater, September 10, 1967
Webmaster, 10/10/2013: From a High altitude aerial photograph over sections 3, 4, and 5 of Township 19N and 13E and sections 27, 28, 29, 32, 33, and 34 of Township 20N and Range 13E , courtesy of the Tulsa City-County Library. This is in section 4, I believe.

The Tulsa Tribune, Friday, June 5, 1953
Bellaire Drive-In (courtesy of Wes Horton)

Location: 709 W. 51st, N 36 5' 27.42" W 95 59' 57.23"
Theatre Catalog/IMPA lists L.E. Snyder as owner 1955-1979.
1965 IMPA lists capacity as 600.

The Bellaire Theater, Sept. 10, 1967.
The Bellaire Drive-In Theatre on September 10, 1967
Webmaster, 11/3/2013: From a high altitude aerial photograph over sections 13, 14, 15, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, and 27 of Township 19N and Range 12E, courtesy of the Tulsa City-County Library. This is in section 26.

The Bellaire Theatre, Sept. 10, 1967. Wider view from same photo, north at top.

The Riverside Drive-In Theatre on September 10, 1967
At bottom: the Pepsi plant. Bob Hurley Ford is on the Bellaire spot today. Same view on Google satellite.

(from Guestbook 53) Liz Beall Eubanks said:

I don't see much about the Bellaire Drive-in. My cousin lived on the street behind it and you could watch it from his roof. We lived 2 streets over and could see it in glimpses from the tall swingset in our yard. My grandparents lived on the street where when the drive-in let out, all the cars drove by the house. It was hard to sleep at their house when the movie was over in the summer with the windows open. I remember my mother popping a dishpan full of popcorn, piling all 5 of us in the Rambler station wagon, and going to see a triple John Wayne feature. I never made it through the first movie. (Past my bedtime!)

(from Guestbook 99) Mitch Schauer said:

Recently, I had the opportunity to re-view "Godzilla vs. Hedora." The movie brought back memories of going to the Bellaire Drive-in back in 1972 and seeing the English-dubbed Japanese horror flick under its original title, "Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster."

One thing I recalled regarding the Bellaire was its proximity to Tulsa's waste processing plant. The pungent odor of excrement indirectly lent the film's loopy villain a certain "air" of authenticity.

Now, nearly 30 years later, the movie STILL stinks, but I do miss the long gone Bellaire drive-in.

P.S. The waste plant also prevented the Bellaire from becoming a top-notch makeout spot.

(via email, 9/13/2004) Bryan Crain said:

Turnpike Ford (now Bob Hurley Ford...webmaster) actually sits on the land that was once the Bellaire Drive-In. It was an empty field up until the early-mid nineties..until Turnpike came along. Me and some of my friends "scouted" around the lot in 1989 or so, there were still bits and pieces of it still around (empty marquee, "humps"...etc.)

66 Drive-In Grand Opening, Aug 21, 1947. Became the 11th Street Drive-In, 1964.
Hi-way 66 opening (courtesy of Wes Horton)

Brian Donlevy was co-star of "Canyon Passage". Oddly, the ad mistakenly credited Preston Foster, who wasn't even in the movie. See Mr. Donlevy in Tulsa circa 1960 on Louise Bland's page.

Location: N 36.148107 W 95.867086
Entry on north side of street.
Satellite photography shows unknown industrial buildings on site, no remains.
Operated by Griffith Theatres Aug 21, 1947 until Aug 14, 1960.
Rebuilt as 11th Street Drive-In Theatre, March 4, 1964.
Address given as 9739 E. 11th (1971 Tulsa City Directory)
Operated until Sept 15, 1982.
Open 5 Sept 82, closed on 6-83

1948-49 Theatre Catalog lists Griffith Theatres as Exec.
1949-1950 Theatre Catalog lists Griffith Metropolitan Theatres as owner.
1955 Theatre Catalog lists Video Theatres as owner.
1965 IMPA lists Griffith Metropolitan Theatres as owner, capacity as 562.
1979 IMPA, lists capacity as 500. Owned by Video Theatres.
1984 IMPA lists Video Theatres as owner.

66 Drive-In Theatre (later the 11th Street Drive-In), August 21, 1948 (Delner L.Curtis Aerial Photo Service)
August 21, 1948, Delner L. Curtis Aerial Photo Service (courtesy of Wes Horton)

The 66 Drive-In Theatre on June 13, 1954 at 11th and Mingo. North at top.
The 66 Drive-In Theatre on June 13, 1954
Webmaster, 11/4/2013: From a high altitude aerial photograph over sections 6 and 7 of Township 19N and Range 14E , courtesy of the Tulsa City-County Library.

 Sept. 10, 1967. The 66 became the 11th Street with a 2nd screen in 1964.
The 11th Street Drive-In Theatre on September 10, 1967
Webmaster, 11/4/2013: From a high altitude aerial photograph over High altitude aerial photograph over sections 6, 7, and 18 of Township 19N and Range 14E, courtesy of the Tulsa City-County Library.

(from Guestbook 77) David Bagsby said:

A rating I remember seeing back when those things started up was "M" for Mature audiences. Later this was supplanted by the ubiquitous "R". I remember watching "Night of Dark Shadow" backed with "Fearless Vampire Killers" at the 11th St. Drive-In and for my birthday present the year I turned 13, my folks broke down and took us back to the 11th St. to see "Enter the Dragon"...my first "R" movie. I was the envy of Troop 81.

(from Guestbook 92) David Bagsby said:

Help...this is a bit off topic, but I am trying to track down a movie from the late 60s/early 70's. The style was like a serious Matt Helm-type affair with strange guys in trenchcoats, hats and dark sunglasses going around and shrinking people by pinching them on the neck then stuffing the vacated clothing into a satchel. Anyone recall what this was?

(from Guestbook 100) Brian replied:

I'm 99% sure it's WILD WILD PLANET, an Italian sci-fi film released to the US in 1967. It has to be seen to be believed - very exotic, surreal and cheaply made. Mr. Webmaster, you'll love the cliched yet ethereal electronic score if nothing else.

(from Guestbook 100) David Bagsby said:

Thanks a zillion! "Wild, Wild Planet" is indeed that film. Seems like I saw it at the 11th Street Drive-In.

Courtesy of John Hillis(from Guestbook 128) Steve Bagsby said:

Speaking of Drive-Ins, our clan spent a lot of time at the 11th Street Drive-In. Dad told me it was originally called the "66" and was one the first big landmarks you saw before getting into town. I can remember Mom loading up a metal ice chest with Cragmont Soda Pop (Sparkling Punch for David and me). Seems like it was a big deal in the 1970s when they added a second screen on the West Side. I do remember seeing a long line of tail lights stacked up on 11th whenever they had a big feature.

It made you appreciate the strength of a Ford Galaxie to have seen me and Dave climbing all over that car waiting for the show to start. Too much Sparkling Punch and Oreos I guess.

The dulcet strains of "The Blue Danube" strained through the tinny speakers at the 11th Street on Nov. 25, 1971, when "2001: A Space Odyssey" (which debuted in 1968 at the Fox in Tulsa) was on the bill.

Riverside Drive-In, circa 1956
Riverside screen (courtesy of Wes Horton)

Location given as: N 36° 3.64', W 95° 58.19'
Believe closer to N 36° 3' 37.71", W 95° 58' 22.75"

Location given as between Peoria and Lewis Ave. on 71st Street.

Satellite photo shows site occupied by buildings (apartments?)

Grand opening Friday, May 7, 1948

Operated By Griffith Theatres April 30, 1948 until Nov 10, 1977.

1948-49 Theatre Catalog lists Griffith Theatre as Exec M8-C602-D7-CH3

1949-1950 Theatre Catalog lists Ralph Talbot as Exec M9-C600-D7

1955 Theatre Catalog lists Griffith Theatres as owner C600

1965 IMPA lists Griffith Metropolitan Theatres as owner (Video Theatres)

1965 IMPA lists capacity as 604

1979 IMPA, lists capacity as 500. Owned by Video Theatres

1984 IMPA lists Video Theatres as owner.

The Tulsa Tribune. Friday, May 7, 1948
Riverside Drive-In (courtesy of Wes Horton)

The Riverside Theatre, Sept. 10, 1967. South at top.
The Riverside Drive-In Theatre on September 10, 1967
Webmaster, 11/2/2013: From a high altitude aerial photograph over sections 5, 6, 7, and 8 of Township 18N and Range 13E, courtesy of the Tulsa City-County Library. This is in section 7.

The Riverside Theatre, Sept. 10, 1967. Wider view from same photo, north at top.

The Riverside Drive-In Theatre on September 10, 1967
Head south on Peoria (far-left vertical), make a gentle left onto 71st St to approach.

(from Guestbook 44) Frank Morrow said:

I don’t remember exactly where the Riverside Drive-In Theatre was except that it seemed to be out somewhere near where Oral Roberts University is now. It might have been closer to town, though. But I do remember some of the activities that went on there.

There were stories of people being smuggled into the place in the trunks of cars. Other people supposedly tried to get in for free by backing in the exit with their lights out to avoid notice.

I do know for sure that I got good use of my folks ’49 Nash and later my ’51 Nash. For you youngsters who don’t know about the Nash’s specialty, the front seats folded back to make a bed. (Studebakers had the same feature.) It was great for drive-ins, because you could lean back against the back seat and stretch your legs out to watch the movie in great comfort. Sometimes, however, the movie could be difficult to watch if the windshield was steamed up. That was no problem, though, because you weren’t watching the movie anyway.

Two things still seem strange to me: I don’t remember ever being bitten by a mosquito (The owners must have been generous with their DDT spraying.), and I don’t ever remember being bothered by heat or humidity. I guess we were made of tougher stuff back then. Also, air-conditioned cars were not to be had at this time. We didn’t know that we were uncomfortable.

Subsequent generations owe a great debt to the drive-in movies. Without those places many of the younger people wouldn't even be in existence today.

(from Guestbook 246) Brian said:

I grew up on 64th between Peoria and Lewis. Been living in Colorado since 1980. I remember seeing the Riverside Drive-In across the soy bean field and imagining the lights from the marquee were part of a spaceship.

(from Guestbook 44) Bryan Crain said:

The Riverside Drive-in Theatre was located on 71st Street between Lewis and Peoria where the Red River Apartments are today. There is an old auction building (still standing) that was almost directly across the street from the Drive in. I have a copy of an aerial photo from the Tulsa Historical Society and you can see the auction building...of course nothing else was around!

Final Riverside ad, 11/30/1977, courtesy of Wesley Horton.
Final ad for the Riverside, Nov 30, 1977, courtesy of Wesley Horton
"Escort Girls" starred Maria O'Brien (daughter of actor Edmund O'Brien), who was excellent in the 1975 Michael Ritchie film, "Smile". "Diary of a Hooker" was the first feature of Dutch director Paul Verhoeven ("Basic Instinct", "Total Recall").

So we patrons were art appreciators after all; it wasn't prurient interest! Right. As I recall, we could have used less "art" and more "groceries", as Joe Bob Briggs puts it.

"And don't forget the shut-ins---"

The Tulsa Tribune, April 23, 1948. Ad says, "And don't forget the shut-ins---"
Skyline Drive-In (courtesy of Wes Horton)

Location: (Theatre) N 36.2096, W 95.9952
Location: (entrance) N 36.2092, W 95.9938
Located at 3800 N. Cincinnati.
Satellite photo shows very little remains.

Operated by Video Theatres from February 23, 1948 until September 15, 1970.
1948-49 Theatre Catalog lists Griffith Theatres as owner.
1949-1950 Theatre Catalog lists Griffith Metropolitan Theatres as owner.
1955 Theatre Catalog lists Capacity at 648.
1965 IMPA lists capacity as 662.

(from Guestbook 52) Lowell Burch said:

I wish that they could have broadcast the soundtrack on FM when I was growing up. I could sit in my backyard at the bottom of Cincinnati Hill and see the screen of the Skyline Drive-In, I just couldn't hear it. That was back when the Capri and many others had playgrounds that included motorized rides, many that were built, I understand, out of salvaged WWII bombers by Bob Bell (Bell's Amusement Park).

(from Guestbook 54) "Lou Boils" said:

Speaking of drive-in movies, my first trip was to the, long gone, Skyline at 36th St. N. and Cincinnati. Saw "The Great Escape" with my folks and the next day tried out my Steve McQueen style of bike riding down at the dead end. Got a little cut up on a barbed wire fence. I was a little cut-up!

(via email on 11/6/2002) Joe Johnston said:

There used to be playgrounds under the screens of the drive-ins. People would get there early so the kids could play before the feature started. Remember the giant cut-out cartoon figures around the playgrounds? They were at the Riverside, the Capri, and maybe one more, all owned by Griffith Theatres. My dad, C. Ray Johnston. painted those every year from about 1952-70.

Skyline Drive-In was on the north side of town; Skyline Amusement Park (not associated with the drive-in) was to the far south, near Jenks.

The Skyline Drive-In, courtesy of Wesley Horton
Courtesy of Wesley Horton.

The Skyline Theater, June 13, 1954
The Skyline Drive-In Theater on June 13, 1954
Webmaster, 10/10/2013: From a high altitude aerial photograph over sections 11, 12, 13, and 14 of Township 20N and Range 12E, courtesy of the Tulsa City-County Library.

Friday, May 5, 1950

Teepee Drive-In (courtesy of Wes Horton)

(From the Sapulpa Daily Herald, by permission of Don Diehl)

Sunday, May 7, 1950

Huge Crowd Happy at Opening of New Drive-in Theater.

"An evening well spent."

This was the general comment from patrons at the opening night of Sapulpa's first drive-in theater, the Teepee.

"We have finally found some place to spend our evenings without being forced to drive 15 miles during the hot summer months," said one of the pleased first nighters.

The Teepee, located one mile west of Sapulpa on Highway 66, opened with an overwhelming crowd and the staff managed to make each carload of visitors welcome in a courteous, helpful manner.

After the first show, a glorious display of fireworks thrilled the audience and a huge Hollywood flood light added to the "big time" atmosphere of the opening night.

Cool refreshing breezes and soft music added to a new Technicolor picture and the privacy of your own car provided for the most humungous entertainment acceptable to Sapulpa's Friday night and the best part, it will be available any night this summer, rain or shine.

Two girls (Your choice of blonde or brunette) make the ticket sales at the handy drive in window and first nighters were provided with clean windshields by attendants of the Sheerer Service station. Just inside the grounds, other courteous attendants directed the parking and arrangement of the easy to use in-a-car speakers.

The grounds of the Teepee are arranged in rows just as are the urban theaters; these rows are made of earth in the shape of mounds. Simply park your car with the front elevated until you reach the desired position for perfect vision.

Ample lights provide fast exit and attendants once again directed the traffic.

"You'll find Ma, Pa and the kids at the drive-in," said one of Sapulpa's leading citizens upon leaving the gate. "We've found our summer's entertainment at the Teepee."

Teepee screen

Teepee marquee

Google Earth satellite view of the teepee-shaped Teepee site today.
The remains of the Teepee
More pics of the Teepee on this page at DriveInTheater.com.

Today: the Cardinal Drive-In was at the upper-right polygon. The Cardinal Drive-In Theatre in Collinsville

The Cardinal was near Collinsville at N. Memorial Dr. and State Hwy 20, north of Tulsa and Owasso.

Wes Horton: "The Cardinal Drive-in Theatre had its grand opening ad on Friday July 3, 1953. I do have a copy of it...

"The only other thing I know is that it was listed in the 1955 Theatre Catalog, Robert Downing as Exec. Capacity was given as 182 cars. It was also listed in the 1960 International Motion Picture Almanac as having a capacity of 210 cars and R.M. Downing as owner."

The Cardinal Drive-In on June 13, 1954
Cardinal Drive-In, 1954
Webmaster, 10/9/2013: From a high altitude aerial photograph over sections 23, 24, 25, 26, 35, and 36 of Township 22N and Range 13E , courtesy of the Tulsa City-County Library. This is in section 23.

If you want to check out the maps, go to http://www.tulsalibrary.org/blog/new-digital-collections-1950s-and-1960s-aerial-photographs-tulsa

The page explains how to use the Tulsa County Assessor's online Tulsa County maps to assist with area identification. After doing that, I searched on "22N 13E", then looked for a photo with section 23.

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