Friday, April 01, 2016

MY Drive-In

Photo by Mal Sharpe, 1973

Due to our endlessly good weather, drive-In movies were very popular in Southern California. As a family, we frequented two drive-in theaters on a regular basis, the Studio Drive-In in Culver City and the Olympic Drive-In on Bundy and Olympic in West L.A. The Studio Drive-In existed up through the early 1990's. MY drive-in, The Olympic, was torn down in 1973. I call it MY drive-in, because this outdoor movie theater was closest to our neighborhood and was a very popular spot for dates when I was in high school and my early college years.
1945, Photo from LAPL Archives

The original WLA drive-in was located on Pico and Westwood (where the Westside Pavillon stands now), built in 1934. 
Original Location of WLA Drive-In on Pico and Westwood, 1930s. Photo, uncredited

It moved from Pico to Olympic Boulevard and Bundy in the mid-1940s and was renamed the Olympic. The mural on the back of the screen that faced the street was of two surfers, a boy and a girl, riding a wave. I wonder who painted that mural?
Aerial View, Olympic Drive-In, 1962. Photo by Howard D. Kelly

The Olympic was torn down in 1973 and replaced by a Cadillac dealership. The sales building at the car dealership occupies the same footprint as the screen and concession stand where the old Olympic once stood.  I can almost see those ridiculous "surfers" when I drive by. Sigh.
Site of former Olympic Drive-In Theater, 2015. Google screen-shot

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At 1:01 PM PDT, Blogger Unknown said...

I remember going there as a child but couldn't remember exactly where it was. Thanks. And I also remember going to the Gilmore which was torn down much more recently.

At 1:04 PM PDT, Blogger Unknown said...

Its a little ironic that cars are being sold there.

At 2:01 PM PDT, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

That's for sure, Unknown! I'm sure, one of these days, this same corner will be high-rise apartments with a Wal-Greens on the first floor. Sigh.

At 3:32 PM PDT, Blogger mrdowntownla said...

Floral Drive-in East LA,now Monterrey Park. Business Park,across the Freeway from LASD headquarters. TK

At 3:32 PM PDT, Blogger mrdowntownla said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 3:34 PM PDT, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

Those were all great drive-ins, T.K.!

At 1:49 PM PDT, Blogger jamie said...

I remember seeing movies at the Culver City drive in in the previous century!

At 1:55 PM PDT, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

Exactly, Jamie!

At 12:28 PM PDT, Blogger Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

We still have one such outdoor movie palace though it had to move several miles east some years ago due to the land it originally occupied having become too desirable for real estate developers to resist. It is called the Twilight Drive-In now. A family oriented crowd the backbone of its success. Sonja and I still like watching movies in the car. It's fun.

At 12:41 PM PDT, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

The Twilight sounds like a great drive-in, Mr. Beer. Where is it located?

At 3:28 PM PDT, Blogger Lizzy Tex Borden said...

I remember being at the Olympic in my pj's watching Beach Blanket Bingo with my mom and dad.

Then the fateful day that that photo by Mal appeared in The Evening Outlook newspaper.

That theater was a huge part of my younger years.

At 3:30 PM PDT, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

I agree, Lizzy!


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