EATON, Vera (1906-2004) [SS#546-24-5712], only surviving daughter of Ira and Margaret Eaton. She was born June 15, 1906 in Santa Barbara. Vera spent her childhood living at Pelican Bay on Santa Cruz Island, where she was exposed to film producers and movie stars of the silent film era. She left the island to pursue a career in acting in Hollywood. Actor, David Niven (1910-1983), referred to Vera in an unflattering way, without mentioning her name, in his 1975 book, Bring on the Empty Horses. Vera threatened to sue Putnam’s, Niven’s American publisher, for libel. Putnam’s chose to pay Vera an out-of-court settlement for $6000. Half the sum was deducted from Niven’s next royalty payment, and he allegedly left Putnam’s over the incident, because they did not give him a chance to fight the case.
- Vera Eaton = Gibbons (divorced)
- * Jevere Ann Amey (d. 2014) = John Silas Klingaman
- * Stacey Klingaman
- * Tyler Flygare
- * Stacey Klingaman
- * Jevere Ann Amey (d. 2014) = John Silas Klingaman
- Vera Eaton = Ronald L. Amey (1909-1996)
- * Michael Gene Amey (1942-2014)
- * Susan Amey
- * Jessica
- * Jay Michael
Vera Eaton Amey died on July 9, 2004 in Fillmore, California at age 98. She and her husband, Ronald L. Amey, are buried in Santa Barbara Cemetery.
» Niven, David Bring on the Empty Horses New York: Putnam's, (1975)
In the News~
July 4, 1914 [SBMP]: “Captain Ira K. Eaton returned from Pelican Bay in his powerboat, Sea Wolf, at noon yesterday, to add his handsome craft to the marine pageant that is expected to be such an important feature this evening, in the big celebration. Mrs. Eaton and her daughter, Vera, returned with the Captain for the Fourth of July festivities.”
1975: “One cold October evening Dragon dropped a lonely anchor in a little bay off the sheltered eastern coast of Santa Cruz Island. We had enjoyed a couple of days' fishing en route, but the heavy autumn swells had made most anchorages among the islands uncomfortable sleeping places, and we looked forward to a good night's rest ashore at Eaton's Fishing Camp. Expectantly, therefore, Ronnie [Coleman], Bill Powell, and I [David Niven] climbed the hundred rickety wooden steps from the landing stage to the small cluster of cottages roosting on the rock face above, owned and operated for many years by Mrs. Eaton. Santa Cruz Island was large and was a privately owned cattle and sheep ranch. The Eaton family had long held the only concession of any sort allowed on it. The widow Eaton was a wild-eyed, harridan-type woman with straggly gray hair, dirty fingernails, and a gray woolen sweater which made one's eyes water, but the beds she assigned to us looked clean, the water was hot, and in the dining hut the menu promised a welcome change from the baked beans and corned beef dispensed by Tommy. Nobody was there but us. After taking showers, we repaired to the dining hut, and while Mrs. Eaton and a gap-toothed Mexican were preparing our meal, we relaxed around a roaring fire. The conversation, as usual, was about movies, which was unfortunate because having plonked down our plates, Mrs. Eaton suddenly fixed at us with her mad eyes. 'You guys movie folk?' she demanded belligerently. Feeling uninvolved, as I had yet hardly appeared on the screen, I looked at my companions, two of the biggest stars in the business, and waited for their modest acceptance of the fulsome compliments that would soon rain down on them. 'Yes,' said Powell, 'we are — er, in a small way.' Mrs. Eaton was instantly transformed. She grabbed up our sizzling steaks and headed for the kitchen. 'Clear that goddamn table, Ramon,' she shrieked at the Mexican. 'No film people set foot in my camp... fuck off, the lot of you!' She started pulling us out of our chairs. 'Get off this island — I hate you all, you're a bunch of no-good chiselers... the dog gets your steaks.' A mangy, twitching mongrel lying in front of the fire opened one unenthusiastic eye. 'Here,' she babbled, ripping our wind jackets off hooks. 'Take your goddamn coats and get the hell outta here.' She started raining blows on our retreating backs. 'Why, madam... Why?' asked Coleman, trying to lend some dignity to our retreat. 'What have we done to you?' 'Barrymore!' she yelled. 'Ever heard of a creep called John Barrymore? ...Well, ten years ago the bastard dropped anchor down there in a big white schooner...he comes up to the camp for supper, he and his lousy friends...my little girl was here on vacation; she was gorgeous and only seventeen . She waited on tables at the Happy Halibut Seafood and Steak House at Pismo Beach. This drunken shitheel, Barrymore, was old enough to be her granddad, but he kept making passes at her. Finally, she says, 'Mom, I've been invited off to the yacht for a beer,' and off she goes... I never seed hide nor hair of her since...That goddamned Barrymore sailed away that night with my little girl, and I never seed her no more.' Tears were pouring down the woman's dirty cheeks, and she kept shoving us through the door. 'She married some fella...a cameraman or some such, they told me...she never wrote to me, and she never come back...I hate all of you...get off my camp, you lousy bums, and stay off it.' As our crestfallen and stomach-cheated trio clambered down the dark rotting steps, we were bombarded with half grapefruits, empty beer bottles, and cries of 'Lousy actors — who needs you?'” [Niven, David. Bring on the Empty Horses, 1975 pp. 192-194].
October 27, 2005 [VCS]: “Vera Natalie Eaton Amey, daughter of Margaret Ann Holden Eaton and Capt. Ira Eaton of Santa Barbara, made her transition on July 9, 2004 at the age of 98. A resident of Ventura County for more than 50 years, Vera lived primarily in Fillmore but also shared her home with her daughter in Santa Paula. Although born in Santa Barbara on March 15, 1906, her fondest memories were stories of her upbringing on Santa Cruz Island. Vera graduated from Santa Barbara High School before working in the film industry in the 1920s. She was a loving wife and mother, who supported and sheltered not only her immediate family but extended family members as well, during the lean time of the Depression. One of her greatest accomplishments was publishing her mother's diary detailing the early Santa Barbara and Channel Islands history. Diary of a Sea Captain's Wife, in 1980. Vera painstakingly verified information, collected photos, helped to edit the manuscript and saw the project through from conception to fruition. Diary of a Sea Captain's Wife has since become a classic tale of local history. Vera's fondest and most vivid memories were of her enchanting childhood spent on Santa Cruz Island. Among her memories was acting as guide and fishing expert to a visiting John Barrymore, who gave her a child's sewing kit complete with a child's-size silver thimble for one of her birthdays. Helping her mother and father with tourists and visitors to the island, including filmmakers, actors, novelists and many others, still inspired her warm and vivid memories decades afterward. During her teens, she was introduced to acting, playing her first role as a mermaid. Vera's love, beautiful soul and selflessness have touched so many, including her late husband, Ronald 'Bud' Amey. She will be remembered with respect, admiration and affection by her daughter and son-in-law, Jevere and John Klingaman of West Hills; son and daughter-in-law, Michael Amey and Barbara Kurtz of Santa Paula; daughter Susan Amey of Santa Paula; grandchildren, Jonna Reid of Simi Valley, Marc Klingaman of Simi Valley, Michelle Amey Powell and her husband, Scott, of Thousand Oaks, Jessica Cook of Claremont and Jay-Michael Cook of Santa Paula; great-grandchildren, Christopher, Matthew and Jesse Holden Reid of Simi Valley, Tyler Klingaman of West Hills, Cara, Laura and Emmagrace Klingaman of Idyllwild and Spenser Powell of Thousand Oaks. A service to celebrate Vera's life of love and dedication to her family will be held at 10 Am Wednesday, July 14, at Skillin-Carroll Mortuary in Santa Paula. Arrangements are under the direction of the family-owned Skillin-Carroll Mortuary, Santa Paula.”