Which Catholic nun walked the Red Carpet for the Academy Awards in a habit? Who is the only Oscar-voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who is a nun? And by the way, this Benedictine nun was the first woman to ever kiss the legendary Elvis on screen. She celebrates the golden jubilee of her religious life this month.
Fifty years ago, actress Dolores Hart shocked Hollywood when she made a momentous announcement: She was leaving Hollywood to join a contemplative Benedictine monastery. Why would a movie star on a fairy-tale rise leave the movie industry?
Her career took off in 1957. As a young college student, she debuted opposite Elvis Presley in his first film, Loving You, in which she was the first to kiss him on screen.
In six years, starring with the biggest names in the industry, she had 10 very successful feature films to her credit, plus TV roles and a Tony Award nomination for her debut on Broadway. And she was engaged to a Los Angeles architect.
But in 1963, she entered the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Connecticut. Today, 50 years later, Mother Dolores Hart is prioress of the abbey.
In her autobiography, The Ear of the Heart: An Actress’ Journey From Hollywood to Holy Vows (Ignatius Press) — co-authored with lifelong friend Richard DeNeut and released May 7 — she tells her amazing life story, from her birth in Chicago to becoming Catholic, from her Hollywood adventures to monastery life.
The book title comes from a quote by St. Benedict meaning to listen with the “ear of our heart” to the voice of God inviting us to follow him.
Mother Dolores has been granted the rare privilege of traveling outside the cloister for a short time to talk about the book.
With a similar privilege in 2012, she became the only contemplative nun ever to walk the red carpet and attend the Oscars because an HBO documentary about her life, God Is the Bigger Elvis, was a nominee for “Best Documentary Short Subject.”
She remains the only Oscar-voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who is a nun.
Days before her book’s release, Mother Dolores gave THIS INTERVIEW to the Catholic Register