Tui Bow
born: 19 October 1905
Hawera, Taranaki,
New Zealand
died: 25 March 1993
Alderley, Brisbane, Queensland,
(age 87)

New Zealand-born actress who appeared in only a small handful of films in the 1920s.  She was married to Robert Bow, the father of Tui's friend, actress Clara Bow.

Paraphrased from the “New Zealand Truth” 12 Oct. 1907 – 04 Jan. 1908 (and various other NZ newspapers):
About 1903, Frances Helen or Ellen (possibly Cahill*) a some-time actress, married or lived with Harry Leigh, a jockey who had spent some time in jail and bore a child, Violett, with him.
In August 1904, Frances, long separated from Leigh, became intimate with “well known“ jockey, 18 year-old Edward Murtagh, off-and-on until 1907 as “his missus”. During this time period, she bore his illegitimate child (1905 or 06*), Mary Lorraine Tui Leigh. Murtagh supposedly registered Tui in the name of Harry Leigh (to avoid child support) although, in court, the handwriting was proven to be that of the mother, Frances. The Mother followed Murtagh from town to town for child support money and occasionally prostituting herself to other men. Murtagh was trying to “lose” her.
October 11, 1907, they had separate rooms in a boarding house in Wellington, NZ where she had followed him. The “parents” argued about child support money and money that Murtagh had supposedly “stolen” from her. He claimed that he recently married another woman and was leaving. She claimed that she was pregnant with another child of Murtagh's. Murtagh kicked and punched the Mother on the bed. The child “howled lustily” and he said “Shut up you little bitch and pulled up the child's dress.....and slashed her above the left knee with a razor.....and said “that's what I think of both of you; perhaps you have had enough now.” Murtagh told boarders, who came by because of the commotion, that Tui had cut herself accidently with the razor (a gash 3 inches long and one inch deep). He or the Mother and a nurse who also boarded in the house took Tui to a doctor for stitches. (She was seriously injured but eventually recovered fully). The Mother went to the police who charged him with “maiming a child”. For 2 months, the case went up through the NZ court system ending with a jury trial that convicted Murtagh in 2 hours in early Dec. and sentenced him to 18 months in jail. (Some say the Mother won sympathy with the jury with her frequent crying, possibly acting, during her testimony). The “NZ Truth” newspaper investigated Tui's mother (Frances Leigh) and based upon new evidence and some not allowed in court and sworn statements from people who knew Mrs. Leigh before 1907, tried to get the Minister of Justice to re-open the case and release the young Murtagh who had fallen “under the magnetic influence of Mrs. Leigh”. Harry Leigh said his wife , “while in a rage, caught (their) child (Violett) by the legs and banged its head on the window sill. How the child lived is a mystery”. When a doctor examined Violett, Frances told him that the babysitter had dropped it. Later, she also claimed that Harry had struck the child with a bottle. While living at another boardinghouse, the owner said the child was ”covered in filthy rags and bruised about the body......Mrs. Leigh said the child had slipped from her hands and struck its head on the window”. While Murtagh was awaiting trial, Mrs.Leigh stayed at 2 different boardinghouses. Proprietors stated that she left the child (Tui) alone and crying into the middle of the night while she was “playing the part of a prostitute” and robbed and bilked a male boarder”. She was evicted.
At the end of Jan. 1908, a hearing of the Minister of Justice let the jury verdict and the sentence stand.
In a 1928 border crossing from Canada to the US, Tui says she was illegally in the US from 1924-28 and her mother was “Glory Cahill”, still living in NZ.
During the Oct-Nov 1907 trials, Tui's age is given as “1 yr. 8 mos; 2 yrs.; and 2-3 yrs. Old”.
Real name: Mary Lorraine Tui Leigh
Films listed on this page: 1 film with Stan Laurel.



Half A Man
Shipwrecked woman

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This page was last updated on: 24 October 2017