Star-Chief Drive-In

959 W. Custer Avenue,
Pontiac, IL 61764

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MichaelKilgore on June 12, 2019 at 1:58 pm

From the July 23, 1949 issue of BoxOffice:

PONTIAC, ILL. – A drive-in is under construction at the intersection of Route 23 and old Route 66. It is expected to open the last part of this month with Ken and Mart Murray of Bloomington in charge.

MichaelKilgore on May 20, 2019 at 6:53 am

This might be the transaction that led to the renaming. From the April 17, 1954 Motion Picture Herald: T.E. Lally has sold the Pontiac drive-in, Pontiac, Ill., to L. Hewitt of Manito, Ill., because of illness.

MichaelKilgore on February 27, 2019 at 7:35 pm

My guess is that the Pontiac became the Star Chief, possibly after changing hands or being enlarged. What are two Cinema Treasures listings as of this writing should merge under the Star Chief.

The Pontiac was first listed in the 1949-50 Theatre Catalog, owner Kenneth Murray. The 1952 Theatre Catalog, added a capacity (264) and changed the owner to T. E. Lally. The 1955-56 Catalog changed the owner again, this time to Ken Phillips.

That’s probably the same Ken Phillips who sold the Star Chief to Kerasotes Theatres in 1958.

The Pontiac was in the first Motion Picture Almanac list in the 1950-51 edition, showing a capacity of just 100, owner Martin Murray. Then came a period of overlap where the ever-fallible MPA listed the tiny Pontiac next to an improbably same-named drive-in with the same capacity as the later Star Chief.

Total MPA list mentions for Pontiac IL:

  • 1950: Pontiac, capacity 100, owner Martin Murray
  • 1951-54: Pontiac, 100, Martin Murray; AND Pontiac, 275, J. E. Lally
  • 1955: Pontiac, 275, L. O. Hewitt
  • 1956-59: Star Chief, 275, Kenneth Phillips
  • 1960-64: Star Chief, 275, George Kerasotes
  • 1965-66: Star Chief, 250, George Kerasotes
  • 1969-76: Star Chief, 250
  • 1977-83: Starchief, Kerasotes

(Of course, we have excellent evidence that the Star Chief ceased operations after the 1981 season.)