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Tui Lorraine in La La Land

New Zealander Tui Bow was there, more than 60 years ago during the golden age of Hollywood.

Gary Cooper would walk into Tui Bow’s house at any time of the day or night, Clark Gable often refused to pay for lunch and it was best for a young girl to keep out of Charlie Chaplin’s way. At 85, Tui Bow remembers it all.

They were the great days of Hollywood, when it was a dusty town a few kilometres from Los Angeles and the stars – Gable, Greta Garbo, Clara Bow, Joan Crawford, and a diminutive New Zealander named Tui Lorraine – were all members of the clan. 

Few people alive today remember how it was, says Tui, who lives in a tiny cottage in suburban Brisbane. Surrounded by hundreds of photographs, Tui said “Woman’s Day” had caught up with her just in time.

“The memory’s fading, dear,” she said, but there is plenty of life in the veteran actress. Tui still catches the bus to town most days to have lunch – and even a heavy fall recently hasn’t slowed her much.

Schooled in show-business in New Zealand by her mother, Tui was an accomplished actress, tightrope-walker, singer and acrobat when she arrived in America alone in 1924 while still in her teens.

And she walked straight into the greatest Hollywood era when stars were truly treated as idols. It still amazes her.

“I walked into San Francisco and took the train down to Los Angeles and nothing even remotely looked like happening to me. I went to a casting place in Hollywood and, because I could do all those things, they said I’d be good for serials and westerns so they sent me out to Universal Studios.

Tui Lorraine in La La Land
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