Richard Hollingshead

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Richard Milton Hollingshead, Jr. (February 25, 1900 - May 13, 1975) was the inventor of the drive-in theater.

In the early 1930s, he was working as a sales manager in his father's auto parts company, Whiz Auto Products. According to one story, his mother was a large woman who was uncomfortable sitting in a regular movie theater.[1] So he began experimenting at his home in Camden, New Jersey, using his car, a 1928 Kodak movie projector, and two sheets nailed between two trees for a screen. Eventually, he came up with a ramp in each parking space, so that patrons could elevate the front of their cars to see the screen without being blocked by other vehicles.[2] He applied for a patent on August 6, 1932[2] and was granted number 1,909,537 on May 16, 1933.

With three investors, his cousin John Smith, Edward Ellies, and Oliver Willets, he formed a company called Park-It Theatres, Inc.[2] Their 400-acre (1.6 km2) "Automobile Movie Theatre"[3] opened on Admiral Wilson Boulevard in Camden on June 6, 1933. RCA Victor provided three six foot (1.8 m) by six foot speakers to go with the 40 foot (12 m) by 50 foot (15 m) screen. The first movie shown was Wives Beware, starring Adolphe Menjou. The charge was $0.25 per person and $0.25 per automobile, with a maximum cost of $1. Hollingshead sold the theatre in 1935 and opened another one.

Park-It Theatres licensed the concept to Loews Drive-In Theatres, Inc., but had trouble collecting royalties in 1937. Eventually, after Loews was taken to court, Hollingshead's patent was ruled invalid in 1950.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Reid, Robin T. (May 28, 2008). "The Drive-In Theater Turns 75". Smithsonian magazine. Retrieved September 12, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c Stobbs, Gregory A. (2002). Business method patents. New York: Aspen Law Business. ISBN 978-0-7355-2158-2.  p. 6
  3. ^ Cosway, John. "Drive-in theatres make a comeback in Canada". Retrieved September 12, 2009.