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The Circle Drive-In Theatre located on College St. in Beaumont opened about 1948. On Sunday, June 13th 1954, the grand re-opening featured a brand new 80x40 ft. wide screen under its new owners, Claude Ezell and W.G. Underwood. They owned several other Texas outdoor theatres and commissioned an artist to paint similar clown murals at all of them.
John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara are starring in Rio Grande, the third movie in John Ford's cavalry trilogy from 1950. The others were Fort Apache and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. Also out that year, The Incredible Shrinking Man, which was a classic sci-fi flick with superb special effects.
This scene depicts June 30th 1957. While it is still several months before Elvis sings "won't you wear my ring around your neck," the girl in the classic '55 Bel Air convertible is proudly displaying the ring she just received from her "steady date." Other classic cars featured in this painting include a '57 Olds and a '56 Chevy Nomad.
Notes from the artist:
This is my first painting to mention John Wayne. His birthday is on the classic '55 Chevy Bel Air license plate. Inspired by John Wayne's Cavalry performances in the early '50s I joined the Cub Scouts so I could wear the blue uniform ... to play Cavalry! They were $10.00 dollars at Sears in downtown Beaumont.
When I did the South Park Drive-In Theatre painting in 1986 I used three small boys, brothers in the '50 Ford Woody. All three were my models in many of the "Moments to Remember" scenes. When I painted the '56 Chevy Nomad in this nostalgic depiction of the Circle Drive-In Theatre I used the two small sons of my oldest model as well as my grandson. So there are now two generations of models for my "good old days" paintings.
Other classics in this scene are the '57 Olds, '57 DeSoto and the '52 Chevy Truck with the mosquito sprayer in the back ... and of course my 1941 Cadillac Series 75 Limosine.
The Making of Goin' Steady
Watch this slide presentation by the artist for some rare behind the scenes footage of the process of painting.
The original painting is 36x24" on masonite panel, completed in 2004.
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