Passing of Wilbur Vaughn brings forth memories of the famous Bette Davis photo

Wilbur Vaughn and his wife Imogene would often visit with artist Ray Harvey during the painting of the Bette Davis mural.

Wilbur Vaughn and his wife Imogene would often visit with artist Ray Harvey during the painting of the Bette Davis mural.

Wilbur Vaughn was a young man when Bette Davis visited Cuba,Missouri in 1948. But on that fateful day the mega-star’s destiny would become entwined with Vaughn’s. He would tell the story of what happened that day many times, often with great humor. Artist Ray Harvey would paint a mural on the Cuba Free Press building that commemorated the events of that day. Journalists videoed Vaughn telling his story, and he would often show off the camera that he used to take the photo. Articles recounted his encounter with Bette Davis. Although Mr. Vaughn’s telling of the  story draws to a close with his passing, his part in our town’s history remains for all to see.

Viva Cuba would like to offer its condolences to Mr. Vaughn’s family and friends.  We valued both Mr. Vaughn’s friendship and gracious support of the mural project.  May he rest in peace.

The photo shows a young Wilbur Vaughn, his photo of Bette Davis, his camera that he used, and the Southern Hotel as it was during the visit by Bette Davis.

The photo collage shows a young Wilbur Vaughn, his photo of Bette Davis, the camera that he used, and the Southern Hotel as it was during the visit by Bette Davis.

Bette Davis newspaper article Cuba News & Review

The facsimiles of the articles about Bette Davis’s visit tell the story.

 

Wilbur J. Vaughn
(July 15, 1929 – October 29, 2012)

U.S. VeteranWilbur Jewell Vaughn was born on Monday, July 15, 1929 in Cuba, MO to Henry B. Vaughn and Myrtle Roberts Vaughn. He passed away in St. Louis, MO on Monday, October 29, 2012 at the age of 83 years.Wilbur served honorably in the United States Army during the Korean Conflict as a corporal. He was a military policeman and worked in the Criminal Investigation Division. He married Imogene Dugan on December 31, 1949 in Steelville, MO and to this union 4 children were born. Wilbur had several career opportunities during his adult life. He managed movie theatres in several states for 18 years. He was a construction worker for the Peabody Mines. At one time, he worked for the MO Conservation in Willow Springs, MO as a watchman in the fire tower. He also, was known for his photography and famous for the mural on the Cuba Free Press building featuring the picture he took of the actress Betty Davis. He was a member of the Cuba First Baptist Church. Wilbur will be truly missed by his family and many friends that loved him dearly.

He was preceded by his parents; son Bryan Vaughn; brothers Everette, Earl, Floyd, Noel, Lloyd and Elmer Vaughn and sister Mae Vaughn.

He is survived by his wife Imogene Dugan Vaughn of Cuba, MO; children Julie Ann (David) Darmon of Ballwin, MO, Roger (Margarete) Vaughn of Owensville, MO and Charlene (Conrad) Percival of Rosebud, MO; brother Charles (Helen) Vaughn of Cuba, MO; sisters-in-law Carol (Stanley) Berry of Springfield, MO and Eileen Vaughn of California, MO; grandchildren David (Andrea) Darmon, Jr. of Wildwood, MO, Ginger (Kasey) O’Hara of Fenton, MO, Joe Darmon of Ballwin, MO, and Tina (Patrick) Heidbrink of Owensville, MO; great grandsons Braden Michael Darmon and Reed Patrick Darmon of Wildwood, MO; nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.

Visitation is Thursday, November 1, 2012 from 5-8:00PM and Funeral Service at 11:00AM at Hutson Funeral Home, Cuba, MO with Rev. Bob Knight officiating. Burial at Roberts Cemetery, Salem, MO.

Memorials may be given to Roberts Cemetery.

Arrangements are under the direction of Hutson Funeral Home, Cuba, MO.

For more on the Bette Davis story and Wilbur Vaughn’s part in it  read “Bette Davis visits Cuba, Missouri” and “Original Bette Davis articles served as mural inspiration.”

Wilbur Vaughn speaking at a Route 66 Association of Missouri luncheon meeting.

Wilbur Vaughn speaking at a Route 66 Association of Missouri luncheon meeting in Cuba, Missouri.

 

 

 

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5 Responses to “Passing of Wilbur Vaughn brings forth memories of the famous Bette Davis photo”

  1. Jill says:

    Jane, thanks for the wonderful tribute to Wilbur. Our journey to complete the Bette Davis would not have been possible without him. Can’t you hear him saying, “Would you mind if I took Miss Davis’ picture?” To which Mr. Sherry replied, “Absolutely NOT!!” After Wilbur snapped the infamous picture, Mr. Sherry said, “I’m going to KILL you!” Wilbur then replied, “At age 19, I knew I was TOO young to die…..!” So, so funny to hear him tell it. RIP, Wilbur.

  2. jane says:

    I especially remember him saying,
    I knew I was too young to die, so I ran.”

  3. Russ New says:

    Jane, Your tribute to Wilbur was great. I was always teasing him about having his name in the paper and other publicans, well here we go again he still has not been forgotten and he is still in the spotlight and will be in years to come. He was truly a great friend and I will alway cherish his memory. Your friend Russ

  4. Russ New says:

    I should have proof my story, I miss spelled publications. RIP Wilbur

  5. jane says:

    Thanks,Russ. Wilbur enjoyed his part in the Bette Davis story and always enjoyed sharing it when we asked him to. Maybe he will get to meet Bette in heaven. I would like to hear that story!

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