The Nun Who Kissed Elvis

It took some time before this unusually long and unusually sympathetic article appeared on Entertainment Weekly's website, but here is the entirely fascinating story of Dolores Hart, the "Nun Who Kissed Elvis," aka Mother Dolores Hart of the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Connecticut.  Mother Dolores had quite a career back in the day and well, I'll let EW tell it...

Dolores Hart appeared in 10 movies in the late 1950s and early '60s, starring opposite some of the biggest stars of the era: Anthony Quinn, Myrna Loy, and Montgomery Clift. She was one of Elvis Presley's first onscreen kisses. At age 20, she earned a Tony nomination for her Broadway debut in The Pleasure of His Company. She was an above-the-title star of 1960's spring-break romp Where the Boys Are, which led to an invitation to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


And then in June of 1963, the striking starlet with the dark blond hair and piercing blue eyes left it all behind. She packed a single suitcase and attended one last autograph-signing session in New York City for Come Fly With Me, an MGM comedy about three husband-hunting air hostesses. 'I remember I had makeup on from some photography that they were doing,' she recalls. Then a man working for the studio approached her. 'He wanted to know if he could take me somewhere when it was over, so I said, 'It's a long way. You could just take me to the bus.'' But he insisted, and so he drove her just over two hours north of the city and deposited her at the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Conn., where she has lived the quiet life of a cloistered Benedictine nun ever since.

It's not every nun who enters the convent in the back of a chauffeured limo, admits Mother Dolores Hart, now 72. 'Well, if that's in the script, then why not?'

There are 40 nuns at the abbey now, ranging in age from 29 to 90, but none has garnered as much notoriety or curiosity as the woman who gave up a lucrative and promising Hollywood career for God. On a recent snowy day in Connecticut, Mother Dolores gripped a visitor's hands with a strength somewhat surprising for a woman afflicted with peripheral neuropathy, a nerve disorder she's had since 1997. She's a slight woman, dressed in a black habit that drapes to her feet, with a black knit cardigan wrapped over it and an oversize beret perched rakishly atop the veil that frames her face.

Read the rest here.

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Stephen O'Brien
7 years 11 months ago
I wonder whether Dolores Hart (now Mother Dolores) had anything to do with two little-noticed facts about Elvis Presley: a large statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus stands near his grave at Graceland, and Elvis recorded a wonderful song entitled “The Miracle of the Rosary”:

Stephen SCHEWE
7 years 11 months ago
Marvelous intertwining of culture, kismet, and the witness of faith.  Thanks!
Bill Mazzella
7 years 11 months ago
Notable that she was joining the convent at a time when everyone was leaving. Her comments on "Black Swan" were different to be sure. How about the fact that she votes on the academy award nominees. She would make a show stopping interview at the Oscar interviews which Barbara Walters stopped doing.
7 years 11 months ago

Thanks for the posting, Father. The Abbey of Regina Laudis holds a special place in my heart as it played a significant role in my conversion. Mother Delores' story is, certainly fascinating, for all sorts of reasons; however, what stayed with me is the fact that she sought out the Sacraments for herself at the age of ten. I have always thought that spirituality in childhood is very much under appreciated... For me, the life of the foundress of the Abbey is by far and away the more riveting story.Her life story reads like a finely crafted novel.
Lady Abbess Mother Benedict Duss was a Sorbonne educated Surgeon prior to entering the Benedictines at Jouarre in France. After Patton liberated France, Mother promised God, in gratitude, that she would make a foundation in the the States. And so she did. She came to the States with one other nun. When they got to New York they did not have enough money to pay the cab driver. Talk about faith! The Abbey became the first Benedictine monastery for women in the US.
When so many orders were abandoning communal life, the chant, the divine office, the habit, she held firm to these things, convinced that she was on the right course. One day, after a string of searing losses, I  happened across a CD of Gregorian chant recorded by the Abbey. It set me upon the path of conversion. I know this sounds ridiculous; however, it did. I think Mother Benedict understood the power of this sacred music. Several years later I read Bosco's biography. In it, Mother Benedict is quoted:
" And yet the love of God is the last thing they're thinking about when they come to enter a monastery. They may think they are. But it is do difficult to love God. It takes so long to get there. Saint Benedict says all you have to bring to Christ is the offering to share in His Passion, and you go through a rigorous process to discern how to get there. If you choose this path, it propels you into the Passion of Christ. St. Benedict defines this whole process as being patient-it comes from the word patior, meaning "to suffer'. You have to suffer to continue the work of redemption, even while you never know who you are redeeming. This is all a mystery; we can never understand this rationally, and only by grace can we choose the redemptive path that Christ opened to us. In a small way, or a big way, we have to die within ourselves to further the movement of the Church".
I know there are probably more advanced souls who understand all this, but this statement still takes my breath away. Her bio is a must read: Mother Benedict Foundress othe Abbey of Regina Laudis, by Antoinette Bosco. Plug for the Jebbies-It is published by Ignatius Press.


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