In June 1952, as D. Lee McLain was building his new airer in Wauseon, OH, he did not have a name for it. It became known as the Wauseon Drive-In. He was also at this time operating the Skyline Auto Theatre and the Rex Theatre, both in Morenci, Michigan. He finally decided to name his new airer the Star Auto Theatre which opened on August 2, 1952, screening the 1952 action/western “The Big Trees” with Kirk Douglas, Eve Miller and Patrice Wymore. Al Boudouris(dba the Entertainment Equipment Company of Toldeo) were the contractors hired to build the new auto theatre. Al Boudouris was a well-known name in the building and operating of drive-in theatres. He founded EPRAD(Electronics Products Research and Development) which developed equipment for theatres including drive-in speakers. Bob Cooper would be the manager of the new Star Auto Theatre. It will have a car capacity of 303 cars with in-a-car speakers. Cooperative Theatres Inc. of Cleveland, OH was their booking & buying agency from 1952 to 1999. In April of 1955 the Star Auto Theatre reopened with a wider screen for screening CinemaScope movies.
In August of 1957, Ohio Drive-In Carterers, Inc. leased the operation of the concession stand at the Star Auto Theatre. Leasing out the concession stand was a common practice in the 1950’s-1960’s theatres, most of the time you would get inferior and high price food. In 1960, Leroy Wyse and his son Richard Wyse formed a partnership and bought the auto theatre from McLain on June 27, 1960. At this time both Richard and his father did not plan to leave their present jobs. Leroy was the local manager of the Colonial Finance Co. and Dick was local representative for a potato chip company. During this time the lease with Ohio Drive-In Caterers Inc. was terminated. Eventually the Wyse family would open the Star Brite Laundromat and Star Mobile Home Court next to the auto theatre, both of which are still in business. After McLain sold the auto theatre he bought some property out by the Ohio turnpike on SR 108 and opened the Del Mar Motel. It is still standing as the Days Inn & Suites by Wyndham Wauseon.
On June 2, 1961, Wauseon got hit by a severe rainstorm with wind gusts up to 100mph and unfortunately half of the wooden/steel screen tower was blown down. I believe the screen tower that Theatre Equipment Company erected was only rated up to 83mph. It was replaced by another screen tower and the Star Auto Theatre reopened on July 2, 1961. Unfortunately another strong wind storm came along on March 5, 1964, and the 1961 screen tower blew down. I believe at this time they erected a steel Selby Screen Tower and reopened on April 15, 1964, with a free show. On February 1, 1967, Richard & Hazel Wyse bought out Leroy & Florence Wyse interest in the Star Auto property. In 1990, Richard & Hazel Wyse wanted to retire so the Star Auto Theatre was operated by their son Robert & Kristy Wyse. In 1999, Richard Wyse recieved an offer from Star-Wauseon LLP for the Star Auto Theatre property. The Star Auto Theatre screened its last movie on September 18, 1999, featuring Bruce Willis in “The Sixth Sense” & Will Smith in “Enemy of the State”. The property was demolished, except for the screen tower which stood until 2010. Most people I talked to about the Star Auto Theatre said that it was missed in Wauseon, OH.
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