Olga Nethersole

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Olga Nethersole
Olga Nethersole

Olga Isabella Nethersole, CBE, RRC (18 January 1867[1] – 9 January 1951) was an English actress, theatre producer, and wartime nurse/health educator.


She was born in London, of Spanish descent on her mother's side. Her father was Henry Nethersole, a solicitor. She made her stage début at Theatre Royal, Brighton in 1887.[2] From 1888 she played important parts in London, at first under Rutland Barrington and John Hare at the Garrick Theatre.

She toured Australia and America, playing leading parts in modern plays, notably Clyde Fitch's Sapho, where she and her male costar Hamilton Revelle were arrested for "violating public decency" and later found innocent at trial.[3][4] Her powerful emotional acting, however, made a great effect in some other plays, such as Carmen, in which she again appeared in America in 1906.[5]

She played "La seconde madame Tanqueray" at the Odeon theatre of Paris in 1904.[6] Then she was at the Sarah Bernhardt theatre for Magda, Sapho, Adrienne Lecouvreur, adaptation of a French play by Scrive et Légouvé, Camille, adaptation of a French play la Dame aux Camélias,[7] and The Spanish Gipsy, adaptation of a French play Carmen de Mérimée in 1907.[8] Every summer she spent a week at the house of Edmond Rostand in Cambo les Bains. In 1907, she got from Rostand's play La Samaritaine an English version of it to play it in London.[9] In a conference at the Athenee theatre in Paris on 17 November 1908, Robert Eude said that Olga Nethersole invented the soul kiss (an especially long kiss, of which actress Miss Maud Adams was the recordwoman).[10]

At that time she inspired the character of "Miss Nethersoll", an American dancer, in the French novel La Danseuse nue et la Dame a la licorne by Rachel Gaston-Charles (1908).[11]

She served as a nurse in London throughout World War I and later established the People's League of Health, for which she received the Royal Red Cross (RRC) in 1920.[4] She combined her theatre work with health work for the rest of her life. She was created a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1936.

She died on 9 January 1951 in Bournemouth, England.[4][12] Her brother, Louis F. Nethersole, was a theatrical manager, producer and press agent and one-time husband of the American actress and singer, Sadie Martinot.[13]


This is a partial list of her notable performances:[5]


Between 1885 and 1890, her portrait was painted in Omaha, Nebraska by artist Herbert A. Collins.[14]


  1. ^ Year of birth approximated as 1867 based on death registry at Findmypast.co.uk
    Name: NETHERSOLE, Olga I.
    Registration District: Poole
    County: Dorset
    Year of Registration: 1951
    Quarter of Registration: Jan-Feb-Mar
    Age at death: 84
    Volume No: 6A/Page No:752
  2. ^ "NETHERSOLE, Olga". Who's Who. 59: 1293. 1907. 
  3. ^ "The Sapho Affair". American Experience. Retrieved 2011-03-19. During one performance, Olga Nethersole was placed under arrest for "violating public decency." Her trial transfixed the city for weeks. Instructed by the trial judge that they were "not the guardians of the morals of this community", the jury took only 15 minutes to find her innocent. No sooner had the judge laid down his gavel, than the curtain rose again on Sapho. This time, the crowds were even bigger. 
  4. ^ a b c "OLGA NETHERSOLE DIES AT AGE OF 80 (sic) .." New York Times. 11 January 1951. Retrieved 19 March 2011. Olga Nethersole, one of Britain's most popular actresses of earlier generations, died at Bournemouth yesterday. 
  5. ^ a b "Olga Nethersole". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2011-03-19. 
  6. ^ Le Ménestrel Review 1904
  7. ^ Annales du théatre et de la musique de 1907 (p. 274)
  8. ^ L'Aurore du 12 of june 1907
  9. ^ Newpaper l'Aurore, 12 June 1907
  10. ^ Newspaper Comoedia, 18 November 1908 p. 2
  11. ^ Review Le Mercure de France, 16 September 1908 p. 306
  12. ^ "Olga Nethersole Dies In England". Associated Press. 11 January 1951. Retrieved 19 March 2011. Olga Nethersole, English actress whose impassioned performances in long gone years drew international attention... 
  13. ^ Sadie Martinot Dies Insane at 61. The New York Times, 8 May 1923, p. 7.
  14. ^ Biography of Herbert Alexander Collins, by Alfred W. Collins, February 1975, 4 pages typed, in the possession of Collins' great-great grand-daughter, D. Dahl of Tacoma, Washington

External links[edit]

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Nethersole, Olga". Encyclopædia Britannica. 19 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 421.