Olga Petrova

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Olga Petrova
Petrova, c. 1917
Muriel Harding

(1884-05-10)May 10, 1884
DiedNovember 30, 1977(1977-11-30) (aged 93)
Other namesMadame Petrova
Occupation(s)Actress, screenwriter, playwright
Years active1911–1928
Spouse(s)Louis Willoughby
(19??-1968; his death)
Dr. John Dillon Stewart (physician)
(1913-1938; his death)

Olga Petrova (born Muriel Harding; 10 May 1884 – 30 November 1977) was a British-American actress, screenwriter and playwright.[1]

The Eternal Question (1916)

Life and career[edit]

Olga Petrova autographed drawing by Manuel Rosenberg, 1921

Born Muriel Harding in England, she moved to the United States and became a star of vaudeville using the stage name Olga Petrova. She starred in a number of films for Solax Studios and Metro Pictures, where she was usually given the role of a femme fatale. During her seven years in film, Petrova appeared in more than two dozen films and wrote the script for several others. Most of her films are now lost, including what she considered her best pictures, those directed by Maurice Tourneur.[2] The Library of Congress Silent Feature Film Database indicates three of her films survive: The Vampire (1915), Extravagance (1916) and The Waiting Soul (1918).[3]

In 1913, she met local physician John Dillon Stewart in Indianapolis, Indiana, and quickly became engaged to be married. They married March 31 in Kansas City. Stewart moved his practice to New York City to be near her primary base of operations.[4][5]

Petrova left the film industry in 1918 but continued to act in Broadway productions. During the 1920s, she wrote three plays and toured the U.S. with a theater troupe. She also interviewed a number of prominent film stars on paid assignment for Shadowland magazine, Motion Picture Magazine, and Photoplay Journal, including Marion Davies, Mary Pickford, Theda Bara, Alla Nazimova, Norma Talmadge, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., and Rudolf Valentino.[6] In 1942, she published her autobiography Butter with My Bread. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

She made several visits to Saranac Lake, New York at the height of her fame at the request of theatrical agent William Morris. In the summer of 1921, she turned the first shovel of earth for a housing project sponsored by the chamber of commerce at a lot on Lake Street donated by Walter Jenkins. The Petrova School on Petrova Avenue bears her name.[citation needed]

Olga Petrova died in 1977 in Clearwater, Florida, aged 93. She had no children.


  • The White Peacock: A Play in Three Acts (Boston: Four Seas Company, 1922)
  • Hurricane: Four Episodes in the Story of a Life (Boston: Four Seas Company, 1924)
  • What Do We Know?: A Drama in Three Acts (Boston: Four Seas Company, 1930)
  • Butter with My Bread (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1942)


Daughter of Destiny (1917)
Olga Petrova presents a Knox Riding Hat, 1915


  1. ^ "The Green Book Magazine". Story-Press association. 23 April 1916. Retrieved 23 April 2021 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ Petrova, Butter with My Bread, p. 284
  3. ^ "American Silent Feature Film Survival Database: The Survival of American Silent Feature Films, 1912-1929 (Performing Arts Encyclopedia, The Library of Congress)". Memory.loc.gov. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  4. ^ Dunster, Edward Swift; Hunter, James Bradbridge; Foster, Frank Pierce; Sajous, Charles Eucharist de Medicis; Stragnell, Gregory; Klaunberg, Henry J.; Martí-Ibáñez, Félix (23 April 1913). "International Record of Medicine and General Practice Clinics". MD Publications. p. 796. Retrieved 23 April 2021 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ Petrova, Butter with my Bread, pp. 244-245
  6. ^ Petrova, Butter with My Bread, pp. 313-316

External links[edit]