Star-Lite Drive-In

4888 N. Fresno Street,
Fresno, CA 93726

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Pacific Theatres, Robert L. Lippert Theatres Inc.

Previous Names: Starlite Frive-In, Star-Lite North & South Drive-In, Star-Lite Motor In

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Star-Lite Drive-In

The Starlite Drive-In was opened by Robert L. Lippert Theatres on May 12, 1949 with Richard Widmark in “Down to the Sea in Ships” & James Ellison in “Last of the Wild Horses”. Growing up in 1950’s and 1960’s Fresno, the Star-Lite Drive-In was my neighborhood drive-in, a scant mile from my house. It was notable for being the only drive-in in town, at the time, with two screens (north and south). The two screens usually showed different programs.

Located near the corners of N. Fresno Street and E. Shaw Avenue, with the main entrance on N. Fresno Street, the Star-Lite Drive-In was Fresno’s premier drive-in during the 1950’s. A second screen was added in June 1953. It was closed in 1978 and soon demolished. Today it is the site of the Fashion Fair Mall, one of Fresno’s most popular shopping centers.

As a precocious teen, I once stowed a friend in my car’s trunk on a night when he, nor I, had admission money for the both of us. Safely inside the drive-in, I realized that I didn’t have the trunk key. Hilarity and irate parents ensued.

Contributed by Christopher Stone

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

William on May 3, 2006 at 5:47 am

The Starlite Drive-In was also known as the Starlite North & South Drive-In. It was located at 4888 North Fresno Street, Fresno, CA 93726. The car capacity was 586 cars.

William on May 3, 2006 at 5:48 am

It was operated by Pacific Theatres.

kencmcintyre on September 27, 2008 at 11:36 am

This was a Robert Lippert theater in the early 1960s. At that time it was called the Starlite Motor-In.

kencmcintyre on June 16, 2009 at 9:25 pm

Here is a June 1973 ad from the Fresno Bee:

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 10, 2014 at 9:38 pm

The Star-Lite Drive-In was closed in 1978 and demolished to make way for a shopping center. Prior to the closing, Boxoffice of January 2, 1978 published this article (upper right) about Pacific’s plans to build the four-screen Woodward Park Drive-In to replace the Star-Lite.

dansdriveintheater on November 21, 2018 at 11:11 am

in the 1981 topo maps it still lists a drive-in theater where the starlite was. very very weird.

dansdriveintheater on November 23, 2018 at 12:29 am

1972 aerial uploaded here. notice the new mall next to the drive-in!

MichaelKilgore on April 2, 2023 at 1:35 pm

Adding and consolidating Boxoffice notes…

Boxoffice, April 24, 1948: “FRESNO, CALIF.— Lloyd C. Miller of Bakersfield has applied for a permit to build a $100,000 drive-in theatre on a ten-acre site at Fresno and Gettysburg avenues. Miller represents a company, whose identity was not disclosed, which operates several large open air theatres in California, one of them at San Jose. If the Fresno county planning commission and the Fresno county board of supervisors approve the issuance of a permit. Miller proposes to start construction immediately and have the show ready for business in about 90 days. Construction of such a project in the area proposed is not now prohibited by zoning regulations, but it must be approved by the board of supervisors to insure public safety and welfare.”

Boxoffice, April 2, 1949: “FRESNO, CALIF. – The $110,000 Starlite Drive-In, being constructed on North Fresno street between Gettysburg and Shaw avenues here, is scheduled to open between May 1 and May 15. Built on an eight-acre site with space for approximately 600 cars, the Starlite is a Robert L. Lippert Co. project”

Possibly the second screen opener…

Boxoffice, July 4, 1953: “FRESNO, CALIF. – The new Starlite Drive-In Theatre was opened recently at Fresno and Shaw avenues, claiming to be the largest ozoner on the west coast. It has two screens visible from any location, has spaces for 1,500 cars, and features first run pictures. The Starlite twin-view airer is a Robert L. Lippert project. It has two boxoffices and two entrance roads.”

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