Olga Petrova

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

Olga Petrova
Olga Petrova circa 1917
Muriel Harding

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

Life and career

Born Muriel Harding in England, she moved to the United States and became a star of vaudeville using the stage name Olga Petrova. Petrova starred in a number of films for Solax Studios and was Metro Pictures first diva, 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 in local physician John Dillon Stewart in Indianapolis, Indiana, and was quickly engaged to be married. They married March 31 in Kansas City. Stewart relocated his practice to New York City in order 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 country 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 the name of this famous visitor to Saranac Lake, New York.

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


  • The White Peacock: A Play in Three Acts (Four seas Company, 1922) - 111 pages
  • Hurricane: Four Episodes in the Story of a Life (Four Seas Company, 1924) - 103 pages
  • What Do We Know?: A Drama in Three Acts (Four Seas Company, 1930) - 95 pages
  • Butter with My Bread (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1942) - 371 pages



  1. The Green Book Magazine, Volume 15, p. 716, c.1916, "Unsolvable Petrova" by Alan Dale
  2. Petrova, Butter with My Bread, p. 284.
  3. https://memory.loc.gov/diglib/ihas/html/silentfilms/silentfilms-home.html Accessed 22 August 2019
  4. International Records of Medicine and General Practice Clinics, Volume 97 (1913) p. 796. https://books.google.com/books?id=cdIyAQAAMAAJ&lpg=PA796&ots=tQBoC0-dXu&dq=olga%20petrova%20kansas%20doctor%20stewart&pg=PA796#v=onepage&q&f=false
  5. Petrova, <Butter with my Bread, pp. 244-245.
  6. Petrova, Butter with My Bread, pp. 313-316.

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