Bette Davis visits Cuba, Missouri…

Bette Davis visited Cuba, MO in 1948

Bette Davis visited Cuba, Missouri in 1948. She dined at the Southern Hotel above, and her photo was taken by young Wilbur Vaughn.

In 1948, traveling Route 66Bette Davis pulled up to the Southern Hotel in her Packard station wagon, and the town has never forgotten it.  The memory remains in large part because of the photo that then nineteen year-old Wilbur Vaughn took as the academy award winning actress was leaving the Southern Hotel where she had dined.

Wilbur Vaughn still lives in Cuba and often tells the story. He says it was a cold, rainy Monday night, and he waited outside the Southern Hotel until Miss Davis came out. He then snapped a photo which he had been forbidden to take earlier in the evening by Miss Davis’s male companion.  The companion was so angered that he chased Wilbur down the street, cursing all the way.  The fleet-footed young photographer dodged behind a gas station and heard a “thump” behind him. He turned to see the man face down in the mud. Wilbur escaped to the nearby local theater where Wilbur worked.  He developed the photo in the darkroom there.  It was then printed in the Cuba News & Review the next week.

Vaughn still owns the camera that he used.

When the Cuba Free Press built its new building, it seemed a natural spot for a mural commemorating the visit.  Artist Ray Harvey painted the mural that highlighted the event.

The mural commemorating Bette Davis's visits draws many tourists to continue to take her photograph.

The mural commemorating Bette Davis's visits draws many tourists to continue to take her photograph.

During the 3rd weekend of October, Viva Cuba offers narrated tours of the murals aboard a 1904-style trolley. Here the trolley pauses to hear the story of Bette Davis's visit to Cuba.

During the 3rd weekend of October, Viva Cuba offers narrated tours of the murals aboard a 1904-style trolley. Here the trolley pauses for passengers to hear the story of Bette Davis's visit to Cuba.

For more on Cuba’s murals visit www.cubamomurals.com.

2 Responses to “Bette Davis visits Cuba, Missouri…”

  1. Chris Shafer says:

    Why is the mural of Bette Davis painted with BROWN eyes when in reality her eyes were BLUE?
    Just curious…

  2. jane says:

    Good question, and one that I don’t have the answer too. We had the original black and white photo, and maybe the artist thought her eyes were brown. Maybe he will answer this question. Thanks for asking.

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