Olive Morrell

Olive Morrell, born Olive Miller, was an English actress, especially in Edwardian musical comedies.

Early life

Morrell grew up in Highgate, near London. A singing teacher introduced her to theatrical producer George Edwardes, which led to roles at the Gaiety Theatre, London.[1]


Morrell originated roles in the Edwardian musical comedies A Greek Slave (1898–1899),[2] San Toy (1900),[3] A Country Girl (1902–1904), The Catch of the Season (1904–1906), Sergeant Brue (1904), Under a Panama (1904),[4] The Talk of the Town (1905), and The Spring Chicken (1905).[5] She appeared in a benefit performance of Gilbert and Sullivan's Trial by Jury in 1906.[6][7] As a Gaiety Girl, Morrell's appearance and gowns were at least as reviewed as her talents, and she was a popular subject for photo postcards.[8]

In 1904, Morrell defended actresses from criticism by writer Marie Corelli. "Actresses are not more extravagant than other people," Morrell responded.[9]

She toured as a performer in musicals and pantomime Australia for six months in the 1906–1907 season.[1][10] The press's interest in her appearance continued: "She is distinctly English, with her lovely complexion of milk and roses, a skin as fine as a baby's, straight delicate features, and good grey eyes," wrote one interviewer in a Melbourne newspaper, continuing to describe her teeth ("perfect"), her smile ("bewitching"), her eyebrows, her hair, her height, and her dress.[11]

"If any girl has any ability for the stage, I never blame her for going on," Morrell said in 1906. "It is really the best thing a woman can do, and now there is a very much better class upon the stage. Managers have realized, I think, that a girl who is decently educated and nicely brought up is quicker to understand and learn, and also that she generally makes a better impression than the comparatively uneducated girl."[11]

Personal life

Morrell married Australian politician Willie Kelly in 1908, in London.[12][13] When they separated, Morrell moved back to England with their daughter.[14]


  1. "Confidences of Stage Favorites: Miss Olive Morell", The Sunday Times, December 9, 1906, p. 5, via Trove
  2. Wearing, J. P. The London Stage 1890–1899: A Calendar of Productions, Performers, and Personnel, Scarecrow Press (2013), p. 382. ISBN 9780810892828
  3. "Grand Theatre" The Age, April 21, 1900, p. 8, via Newspapers.com
  4. "'Sergeant Brue' at the Prince of Wales", Sketch, August 31, 1904, p. 260
  5. Caryll, Ivan and Lionel Monckton, The Spring Chicken, Chappell & Company (1905), unnumbered cast page.
  6. "Trial by Jury at the Terry Matinee", The Bystander, June 20, 1906, p. 603
  7. Edwards, G. Spencer. "Concerning Olive Morrell", The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, August 5, 1905, p. 894
  8. "Miss Olive Morrell", Punch, November 8, 1906, p. 8, via Trove
  9. "Corelli Attacks the Women", Buffalo Times, August 28, 1904, p. 14, via Newspapers.com
  10. "Miss Olive Morrell", The Sunday Sun, October 7, 1906, p. 1, via Trove
  11. "The Interviewer: Miss Olive Morrell", Table Talk, November 1, 1906, p. 12, via Trove
  12. Kelly, Frederick Septimus. Race Against Time: The Diaries of F.S. Kelly, National Library Australia (2004), p. 395. ISBN 9780642107404
  13. "Mr. William Kelly M. P., Marriage to Miss Morrell", The Telegraph, February 20, 1908, p. 4, via Trove
  14. Rutledge, Martha. "William Henry Kelly", Australian Dictionary of Biography (1983).
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