Opening of the First Drive-in Theater Celebrated With Google Doodle

    June 6, 2012
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

Google is celebrating the opening of the first drive-in theater with a new doodle on its homepage. When you click the play button, the show begins.

The doodle comes with some appropriate sound effects and video (including an Android dashboard figure, a monster movie and the intermission screen). The only thing missing is a couple making out, though a girl does put an arm around her boyfriend. It ends with a popcorn tub that says, “Google”.

Google has uploaded the video to YouTube if you want to just watch it here:

When you click the doodle, Google shows you “The history of the drive-in theater” as the top result. It’s an Inventors page on About.com, which gives us a lesson on this classic form of entertainment:

Richard Hollingshead was a young sales manager at his dad’s Whiz Auto Products, who had a hankering to invent something that combined his two interests: cars and movies.

Richard Hollingshead’s vision was an open-air movie theater where moviegoers could watch from their own cars. He experimented in his own driveway at 212 Thomas Avenue, Camden, New Jersey. The inventor mounted a 1928 Kodak projector on the hood of his car, projected onto a screen he had nailed to trees in his backyard, and used a radio placed behind the screen for sound.

According to this account of the drive-in theater’s history, the drive-in opened on Tuesday June 6, 1933 on Crescent Boulevard, Camden, New Jersey, and it cost 25 cents for the car and 25 cents per person to get in.

Update: Google is now showing a Wikipedia result over the About.com result. This result says: “Hollingshead’s drive-in opened in New Jersey, June 6, 1933, on Admiral Wilson Boulevard at the Airport Circle in Pennsauken, a short distance from Cooper River Park.” It cites The New York Times as the source of this info.

As Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Roundtable points out, some people are complaining that Google chose to go with this doodle instead of a D Day Google, as today is also the anniversary of that.

Google is also plugging IPv6 (the next version of the Internet) from the homepage. Google released the following video about it this week:

Here’s the page that Google is linking to on IPv6.

  • Gabriel

    Was I the only one who noticed the green Windstream truck right before the popcorn was handed to the driver?

    • Fran

      Brilliant….. and looked just like the drive in I went to when I was young THANK GOOGLE

      • charlet

        Me, too – brings back memories of our drive-in days!

    • Amanda

      We have a wonderful drive-in theater, Getty-4, in Muskegon, MI. People from all over Michigan come and see a movie here. To my knowledge it is one of a very few left in Michigan still in operation and definitely the only in probably 100 miles! Come see a movie some time!

    • http://piczo.com chacih


  • Timothy J. Wengert

    Richard Hollingshead’s experiments were at 212 Thomas Ave. in RIVERTON, NJ not Camden.

    • http://www.webpronews.com/author/chris-crum Chris Crum

      You’re saying Google’s algorithm didn’t deliver the best result?

  • boymomx2

    Super cool tribute to Drive-ins Google. Drive-ins had a lot to do with me being here. So I am very thankful. I think I’ll pay homage by making a date with my husband – snacks included.

    • popeye17

      Yeah Drive-ins are why you are here. What school did you go to? Do you know what happened so that Drive-ins could be here in 1944?

      • Doug


        Forgot all about D-Day, huh?
        Sorry, this day is taken for me and a lot of other patriots in America.
        Do a little RESEARCH before claiming these insignificant “feel good” landmarks.
        Really, look up D-Day and compare the two.

        • Kevin Mc

          I agree – the drive-in was nice in it’s day but it is not something in our history that needs to be celebrated. But remember, Google is extremely liberal so no one should be surprised. Let’s see how consistent they are: if these are all supposed to be “fun”, then what exactly is FUN about the Egyptian elections, Republic Day in Italy, or Women’s Day??

        • Amy

          I compared them I will take the feel good drive in movie theater any day over loss of life.

      • Amy

        Thank you Google for cheering me up. My grandfather fought in D-Day and almost lost his life so it was nice to be reminded of the happier days than the sad wars for once and I learned something I never new. You cheered me up.

  • Kathy McMorris

    I appreciate the effort and the result of every “occasion” that Google celebrates. Thank-you, well done.

    • popeye17

      perhaps you would think differently if you spoke German and and had to do what you were told all the time.

  • Wanda

    Loved the tribute. I am from Camden and have fond memories of going to the drive-in with my family. I hope one day my kids can experience the same so I am on the lookout for one.

    • http://www.delseadrive-in.net jconnell

      If you still live near Camden, there is a great drive-in located in Vineland on Route 47, called the Delsea Drive-In.

  • http://www.talesofthestarlightdrivein.com mike sangiacomo


  • http://www.talesofthestarlightdrivein.com mike sangiacomo

    If you like drive-ins, or remember them fondly, you should check out my award-winning graphic novel TALES OF THE STARLIGHT DRIVE-IN, from Image Comics. It features 31 illustrated stories spanning 50 years at a drive-in theater. For a preview, visit my website by googling tales of the starlight drive-in.
    Mike San Giacomo

    • http://www.webpronews.com/author/chris-crum Chris Crum

      I like Joe Lansdale’s The Drive-In.

  • Brad

    Really? This won out over D-Day? It’s bad enough we are falling behind in math and science in this country but to choose drive in movie theater over the D-Day Invasion of Normandy is ridiculous. D-Day was a pivital moment in world history and helped to define our world as we know it today. Drive in movie theaters are mostly irrellevant has beens. GOOGLE FAIL

    • Randy a Veteran

      Apparently this country is falling behind in spelling, too, as evidenced by your misspellings of “drive-in”, “pivotal”, “irrelevant”, and “has-been”. But a Google doodle is supposed to be something fun or clever. Drive-in movies? Fun. D-Day invasion? Historical and important, yes. Fun? Not so much. Lighten up.

      • Debra

        You’re a vet. Did you see combat?

    • randy donald

      D-Day is to be ignored by all Obama Supporters, Liberals, Global Alarmist, etc. Anything valued or cherished in America must be destroyed according to their agenda – which is working quite spectacular I am sorry to say.

      • Ted

        You are seriously an ignorant idiot.

  • An American Veteran

    Yeah dude. I totally agree. I don’t see how a pathetic drive-in is of greater historical importance than the D-Day invasion.

    These people at Google have some screwed up priorities.

    • George

      Much happened on this date in history.
      68 years ago D-Day and the liberation of Europe and 44 years ago Bobby Kennedy was assassinated.

      Drive-In seem a little low on the importance ladder.

    • http://www.webpronews.com/author/chris-crum Chris Crum

      As Schwartz pointed out in the article I linked to, Google tends to go with “jolly” themes for their doodles.

  • Bertie Ann

    Drive-In Theaters are a wonderful part of America. One of the quirky things that make America great. My Mother-in-Law ran 2 Drive-In Theaters for over 25 years. All of my dates were there. I think is is a great tribute to American leisure and recreation.

  • http://www.insidersgoldbuyingguide.com/ igbg

    As a kid, I used to go to the drive in all the time. It shut down a long time ago and I miss it. It’d be great to see it come back. It was definitely better than the big cinema that we’ve got now.

  • david wayman

    Ummm drive-in doodle over perhaps the biggest event of the 20th Century June 6, 1944?? Hello! D-Day!

  • Fran

    Brilliant!!! Just like the drive in I went to when I was young!

  • James

    Uhhhh…it’s also the anniversary of D-Day…are you serious?

    • Joe

      The Google doodle is usually something not well know so it’s an interesting read. Anyone crying about it not being D-day needs to calm down and quit being so serious. I on the other hand don’t mind seeing something fun that i might have not known about.

      • http://www.webpronews.com/author/chris-crum Chris Crum

        Google does do a lot of events that aren’t as well known, but they also do well-known ones sometimes (like Halloween). I can see both sides of the debate, but again, Google tends to go the more “fun” route with its Doodles.

      • popeye17

        That’s because you’re a spoiled brat and moron.

  • Tom

    The site of the first drive-in movie was actually in Pennsauken, NJ (my hometown) near Camden, NOT in Camden, NJ. Google got this wrong. Wikipedia has it right.

    • http://www.webpronews.com/author/chris-crum Chris Crum

      Google has actually moved the Wikipedia entry up in the results now. I’ve updated the article to reference this. Thanks!

  • Ruben

    Oh, c’mon people! Most of you would have no clue that today was also the anniversary of D-Day had it not been mentioned in the article. Quit your whining.

  • ROSE

    Thank you for the memories. I wish we still had a Drive In in our area of San Diego.

    • http://facebook Doug

      You used to back in the early 80’s. I remember waiting to see Scarface with Al Pacino while laying on the hood of my car looking up at the stars and listening to Led Zeppelin’s I Wanna Crawl echoing around the lot from dozens of little car speakers….

      • adele

        you do!!! coronado blvd in imperial beach 3 screens its awesome and fun :)

    • adele

      you do!!! coronado blvd in imperial beach 3 screens its awesome and fun

    • cheryl

      we also have one in Santee Rose. its one of only 2 that Im aware we still have in San Diego County.

  • Tanya Pinkerton

    Hi Chris, This brings back so many wonderful memories. My father Arthur Jackson was a drive-in movie projectionist in Salinas, CA for over 50 years! I literally spent my entire childhood weekends at the drive-in (it was my mom’s way of getting some alone time away from 4 crazy screaming kids). We used to go into the projection booth and watch my dad unload the heavy cannister reels. He would painstakingly check for flaws and splice the film if needed. As we got older during intermission he would let us announce the specials at the snack bar over the microphone. We were also allowed to select the music that was played over the speaker boxes in everybody’s car. We had a cool selection of 45’s to choose from including “I Shot the Sheriff” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”! Since my father is of German background and very thrifty we would often have breakfast of leftover rejects from the snack bar. Nothing like cold pizza in the a.m. Thanks to Google for triggering memories of a wonderful period of memories in my life!

  • Angy

    Really? 68 years ago today the allies landed in france to liberate europe and google remembers the opening of a drive in movie?

    • John

      Some people are true historians.

    • Amy

      Really are you kidding. Why is it that people cant embrace the the good memories that make us American. We all know about D-Day sad and depressing the people who lost their lives. I am so happy that Google doodled something that represents a happy time in America not the sad side of war.

  • Mick Russom

    Back when the country had a real middle class, and a movie, a few gallons of gas and some food cost less than an hour of minimum wage life was good. Now we run completely on greed and fear. Housing is a commodity being speculated up to outrageous prices, cost of living is brutal, tuition, food, gas, commuting is brutally expensive, and we have chose, for some reason, to take the culture that put a man on the moon and import the Asian way of life full of misery and brutal work life imbalances. Welcome to a world where we are going to see a lot of nostalgia until the memory of a better life is finally gone. I guess I should feel lucky to have nostalgia, its better to have know a good life than to never have had one at all.

  • John

    It’s a “lost” American culture that needs to come back!

  • http://www.ladydisaccessoriesandhandbags.com Diane Berry

    I was surprised , I really thought Google was going to show a movie, boy, did that bring back memories…i remember going to the movies with my family…those were wonderful times…i wish that quality time would come back again, thank you sir, for that wonderful moment in time :)

  • Josh Cantara

    I love how people would rather piss and moan about remembering the horrors of war and killing over the fondness of a good time at the old drive-in. God forbid something else take precedence over your precious blood lust. It never ceases to amaze me how war is the only thing of historical importance to most people. If death and destruction is really the only thing worth remembering to you then you seriously need to reevaluate your priorities.

  • J DeLong

    Loved it. Brought back a lot of memories. It’s ashame that kids today have no idea what a ‘drive-in theater’ was like.

  • Will

    Choosing to commemorate the invention of the drive-in movie theater over the sacrifices made by the men and families, who helped liberate Europe from a vicious dictator. Way to go google

  • Tony Fugate

    Not only are all these people complaining about it, but also I guarantee the majority of you were not alive when it happened. Shut up and be happy that google didn’t put a doodle up of a bunch of men running to their death on a beach covered in bodies.

  • Stumpy

    Great tribute to the Drive In theater. How well I remember being in the back seat of my Uncle’s or Parents car being scared half to death “outside” watching the B & W 50’s monster movies.

    D-Day. Lighten up? Don’t be so serious? I was a combat veteran at 19 years old and with metals on my chest, including the Purple Heart, I count myself as a craven coward compared to those guys.

    I visited Omaha Beach about 25 years ago and it remains tactically daunting even though it is cleared of all the “tanglefoot” entrenched there to slow invading forces.

    The guys who participated in the D-day invasion where true heroes, deserve our homage and should be celebrated above all else. Does no one think that the 10000 (approximate) casualties brought light and hope to the people of Europe under Nazi domination? Many casualities preceeded it and many more followed it.

    I bow my head to the Americans, British, Canadians, Czechs, Poles, Greeks, Dutch, French, Aussies, New Zealanders, and Norwegians who supported and participated in this, the turning point of WW-II.

    As should we all. What is a drive-in theater?

    I think there was “jolly” all over Europe when they heard the invasion started.

  • Cindy Rambo

    YOU GUYS ARE GENIUS !! I absolutely love google doodles. This DRIVE IN one is awesome. Takes me back to a really great time as a kid with my family. YOU GUYS ROCKKKKKK THANK YOU

  • Bev

    Loved the walk (or drive) down memory lane. Missed your inclusion of all the speaker poles in your art as this was the best part about movies in your car. I remember hanging those big clunky things on my car window. Today, they would probably be piped in by underground earphone jacks. Ha. Ha.

  • Sheila Diaz

    Drive In with Google, Really? What about our heroic veterans who stormed the beaches on D-Day? This is an important day of remembrance for our country and I resent google ignoring it. I have switched my browser to Ask.com. Thanks but no thanks, Google. From a veteran who is sick of your political shenanigans!

  • Rich

    It was nice back then, you went and had fun and was a family event no a days that is lost. I sure wish they would come back. We have 2 I believe in Massachusetts. When we go away the kids love it and so does my wife. Great times.

  • Sydnee

    My memory of the drive-in? My mother would make my older brother take me along on his date with his steady girl. He figured out that my facination with being behind the wheel was as good as me not being there. Besides, when they sat in the backseat only the rear window got fogged up.

  • Ciara

    Do people always have to be so negative?! Whine and moan.. like little cry babies. Are you serious?! You people are telling me that when you woke this morning the first thing you did was run to some sort of mobile device or computer to see what wonderful tribute Google paid to D-Day?! Get a grip! Either you like it or you don’t. Google D-Day and read about it all you want… but stop complaining for goodness sake!

  • http://Google Ermelinda

    Loved it!! Brought back wonderful memories going to the Drive-in as a kid.


    Um, bad things have happened almost all the time in history. Imagine someone enjoying their birthday, that just HAPPENED to be on September 11th. People are talking about it and being happy and someone comes up to them saying, “What the hell? You think you’re insignificant birthday requires more attention than the freaking people that died the fateful day planes crashed into the World Trade Center. What is WRONG with you?!” Would you do that?

    Even if you were there and feel as though you deserve all the praise in the planet, people still remember. Doesn’t mean all else must be discarded to make up for the tragedy. Just cause that girl happens to be wishing for a pretty red car doesn’t mean she’s a spoiled typical brat who doesn’t care about her country or world history. History doesn’t always have to be depressing.


    Whoops, I mean your.

  • troy

    wow really? On june 6th were celebrating drive ins?

    I prefer to thank the greatest generation of americans on this day… D-Day.

    Thanks for my freedom… I’m glad im not speaking Japanese with a German accent right now.

  • http://mongrel4u.wordpress.com/ Michael Fisher

    People, please. This is Google Doodle. This name alone would seem to preclude a serious tribute to D-Day. I would suggest that folks who want a heartfelt celebration of those whose sacrifice made this country what it is today look elsewhere. And I seriously doubt google will doodle an animated scene of bodies being imprinted on walls during the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6th either, so save your complaints for that one too.

  • Bill Douglas

    D-Day is perhaps the most significant date in 20th century history. My father and many of your fathers fought in that war and on those beaches. And how did Google memorialize the sacrifices made on that day? By noting the 79th ANNIVERSARY OF THE FIRST DRIVE-IN MOVIE THEATER! Thanks, Google, for your ignorance of history, for your non-existent sense of priorities, and for your indifference towards the sacrifices made by our fathers.

    This has nothing to do with “lightening up” or with “avoiding remembering the horrors of war.” Google has (disrespectfully) chosen to ignore an enormously significant event and has instead given us a bit of Pollyanna-ish fluff about drive-in movies. If (as someone noted above) Google tries to memorialize “feel-good” events, then Google is guilty of sticking its corporate head in the sand at the expense of the memory of many good men.

  • Nick

    Well im 14 right now and i never even heard of a drive-in movie theater only on karate kid i think or back to the future but ya oh ya The Outsiders had a drive-in movie theater with ponyboy and his friends always sneaking in hahaha but ya i wish i could live in those times

  • Nick

    whats up with everybody posting about D-Day????

  • Arturo

    For those folks that would like to see an acknowledgement and remembrance of the solemnity and importance of D-Day along with some of the great men that were there, CNN.com has a great series of archived pictures of along with captions that respectfully explain the importance of this important day in history.

    On a different note, thank you Google for informing us about another ‘alternative’ day in history.

  • Pete

    I used to live in Camden, and I suspect that both reported addresses might be right. “On Admiral Wilson Boulevard at the Airport Circle in Pennsauken, a short distance from Cooper River Park” isn’t necessarily contradicting Crescent Blvd., as the Airport Circle is the intersection of Admiral Wilson Blvd and Crescent Blvd (Rt.130). And even if that intersection is technically Pennsauken, you can ask anybody, that’s the outskirts of Camden!

  • jeff

    D-day, drive-in theater. Ya’ll need to get a focking grip. Why does EVERYTHING have to be political and or celebrated. Ya think in 9 years they’ll do a doodle of Bin Laden’s assassination?

  • Jenny

    If I remember correctly there is still a little drive-in theater north of Spokane (WA) on Hwy 395. Up near Colville I believe.

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/symone1176 SYMONE

      410) 687-5627 or (410) 391-1956 for directions


  • http://www.youtube.com/user/symone1176 SYMONE



  • chris

    I have A vintage unopened bottle of coca cola syrup from the 1940’s or 1950’s drive-in for sale VINTAGE–COCA-COLA GALLON BOTTLE STILL FULL OF COCA-COLA SYRUP FROM THE 40s OR 50s

    I found this bottle at an auction at an old drive in movie
    theater about 15 years ago, don’t have room for it any more.

    This is a sealed one gallon bottle of syrup for sale.

    1940s or early 1950s
    One gallon bottle with metal cap still with original unbroken seal.
    Syrup is the concentrated form of the soda prior to adding carbonation…this bottle would have been sold to the drive-in-movie theater for use in the Coca-Cola machine to make the end product.
    This should not be used as a food product any longer. $1000.00 or best offer.please call for shipping info 717-552-4319

  • Tlab624

    Wow…it was not D-day…just the anniversary. I’m pretty sure Google will have many more opportunities to celebrate this particular anniversary. As a matter of fact, anyone who wanted to see something about D-day could have found it in MANY other places. Are we really looking to Google to serve as our calendar of events? There’s a drive-in in operation in Atlanta. It made me smile to see the doodle.