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County’s First Outdoor Movie opens 1950

The Apache Drive-In theater which is set to close for good this September dates back to 1950, but it wasn’t until recently that we had confirmation of the exact date. According to the Arizona Record, dated December 7th, 1950, the theater opened on Wednesday, December 14th, 1950. It was the first outdoor movie theater to open in Gila County and held 400 automobiles. According to a SilverBelt article from around the same time, the cost of construction was over $75,000. “Individual speakers are installed for each car. Provision is also made for the installation of car heaters…”

The article goes on to say that features include a snack bar, modern rest rooms, bottle warmers for small babies and an all-steel wind proof screen.

It drive-ins was later purchased by  Frank Hollis in early the ’70s and relocated to the current location out on the highway in 1973.

We are continuing to gather stories about the drive-in for historical reference and invite any of our readers to post their memories of both the original drive-in (across from Frys’ Grocery store), as well as the current drive-in. From the crowd favorite cheeseboats (whose recipe seems to be a highly guarded secret!)  to the classic movies of the ’50s, (ie: Singing in the Rain and 20,000 Leagues under the Sea), and the 1960’s (ie:The Good, the Bad and the Ugly…and Psycho) , and the 1970’s (ie Jaws), and the 1980’s (ie: Batman, Beetlejuice and Back to the Future), the Apache Drive-In provided a great deal of entertainment and social nightlife for the community.

What food, movies, and moments do you remember from going to the drive in?


The article in the Arizona Record reads:

The Apache Drive-In Theater, Gila county’s first outdoor movie establishment, will open next Wednesday, O.K. Leonard, owner, announced today.

The theater, on highway 60-70 midway between Globe and Miami, will have a capacity of 400 automobiles. An Indian motif will be carried out in decorating the building housing projection equipment and a snack bar.

Leonard said that the huge outdoor screen is constructed of steel. Sound will be carried over the newest type of equipment available for outdoor theaters.

Leonard and his wife are former Globe residents. They have been engaged in the motion picture business for eight years and formerly operated theaters at Peoria, Arizona and Bayard, N.M.


Arizona Record 1950


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  1. Our thanks to LeeAnn Powers who put in the leg work to look through old newspapers on microfiche and found these items for us to post!

  2. It will be a true shame to see the Apache Drive-In close. After loosing the bowling alley, there leaves very little to do in this town, that spikes the interest of the younger generations. Sure we have the walk-in theater now, but lets face it, it’s just not the same. You would almost be lead to believe that Globe was becoming a retirement community, when our biggest attractions are the mining and antiques. It is just one more reason to move to “the big city”. With less and less to provoke young buyers to come to our town and establish a living, who else is there to continue “the legacy” of what was once a beauty in architecture and grand allure?

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