|The unique shape of the Admiral Twin |
was a familiar landmark on I-244.
Less than an hour after the fire was extinguished, hopeful fans set up a Facebook page dedicated to rebuilding the famous drive-in. That evening a steady stream of cars drove past the site hoping to get a final glimpse of the remains. Optimistic employees used the occasion to sell their last t-shirts and promised to rebuild. The owners had no insurance.
The drive-in was the largest in Oklahoma and well known as a Route 66 landmark. The Admiral Twin was originally built in 1951 as a single screen theater called the Modernaire. But it wasn't until it was expanded to two screens that it gained its distinctive keystone shape.
Situated near Admiral Boulevard, a later alignment of Route 66 through Tulsa, the towering screens became a familiar landmark. Its proximity to Tulsa Municipal Airport (now Tulsa International) even earned it a mention on aviation maps. Later when I-244 was built the slight elevation gave passers-by a much better look at whatever movies were playing... a fact that caused parents some concern when the fare became slightly seedy during the drive-in's less glamorous days.
But the greatest notoriety for the Admiral Twin came in 1982 when it played a feature role in the movie The Outsiders. Coppola's rendition of Tulsa author S.E. Hinton's famous novel of teenage angst could have found no better setting for the classic scene. Unfortunately the cameo appearance did not bring prosperity, and the drive-in fell on hard times for many years. In 2005 things started looking up when the Admiral Twin received $20,000 by winning Hampton Inns' "Hidden Landmark Contest."
It is no small irony that next weekend was to be the end of the season. On the schedule? A special screening of the The Outsiders.
Send donations to:
Admiral Twin Drive-In c/o
P.O. Box 471316
Tulsa, OK 74147
or visit www.selectcinemas.com/admiral_twin_drivein.htm for the latest information.
Words and illustration by Rex Brown