Starlight Drive-In

5803 SW 21st Street,
Topeka, KS 66604

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Starlight Drive-In

On July 9, 1949, Boxoffice reported: “John Basham is manager of the new Starlight Drive-In opened July 2 by Claude Parrish and Hugh Wallace near Topeka, KS.”

The Starlight Drive-In was included in the 1950 Film Daily Year Book drive-in list, the second in Topeka after the Community Drive-In.

The 1949-50 Theatre Catalog called it the Starlite Drive-In, capacity 500, owned by Claude Parrish, who also owned the Community Drive-In. By the 1952 Catalog, the capacity was 400, and the owner was John Basham, Jr.

The Motion Picture Almanac also listed the Starlight Drive-In with a capacity of 400. Its final MPA appearance was the 1965 edition.

On Aug. 8, 2018, the Topeka Capitol-Journal quoted local movie historian Joe Zima’s work, “Topeka has been the site of five drive-in theaters … The Cloverleaf Drive-In, Community Drive-In, Chief Drive-In, Corral Drive-In and Starlight Drive-In.” All five were listed in the 1955-56 Catalog.

Contributed by Michael Kilgore

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

Kris4077 on November 5, 2019 at 10:26 am

I think I found this D-I on the 1948 Historic Aerial it looks as though it is still under construction. On Google maps the closest address is: 5801 SW 21st St, Topeka, KS 66604 which is Affordable Dentures, this is on the south side of SW 21st St. I-470 went right through the Middle of the D-I the field area covered most of the on and off ramps of I-470 in the area south of SW 21st St. If someone knows the years I-470 was built and opened maybe we could narrow down when this D-I Closed. Please change the address above to match the Affordable Dentures address this way the location will be easier to find.

MichaelKilgore on November 5, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Outstanding catch, Kris4077! I just uploaded a 1950 USGS aerial for that spot which confirms it, south of 21st St about halfway between Fairlawn and Wanamaker.

Kris4077 on November 5, 2019 at 12:15 pm

It’s Interesting that there was a cloverleaf Drive-In Theater in Topeka and the starlight became a cloverleaf for an interstate highway. Well at least it didn’t become a Walmart.

rivest266 on March 8, 2024 at 3:56 pm

Opened July 2nd, 1949. Grand opening ad posted.

MichaelKilgore on March 12, 2024 at 7:12 am


“John Basham is manager of the new Starlight Drive-In opened July 2 by Claude Parrish and Hugh Wallace near Topeka, Kas.” —BoxOffice, July 9, 1949

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