Mother Dolores Hart heads back to Hollywood

The celebrated former movie star and cloistered nun will be returning to the Oscars later this month — and walking the red carpet in her habit.

Details, from USA TODAY:

If you spot a nun roaming the red carpet during the Oscar telecast Feb. 26, don’t adjust your set.

Mother Dolores is not flying or singing, but the real deal — and the focus of God Is the Bigger Elvis, which is nominated in the best documentary short category and premieres April 5 on HBO.

“It will be so nice to be back at the Oscars,” says Mother Dolores, 73, the Benedictine nun who stars in the 37-minute visit to the Abbey of Regina Laudis, appropriately located in Bethlehem, Conn. “It’s such a fun night.”

Did she say back to the Oscars?

The last time I was there was in 1959, when I was a presenter,” says Mother Dolores, who is spiritual counselor to 38 other cloistered sisters. “This will be different.”

Different defines the life of a young woman named Dolores Hart. Rewind to 1963. Hart is a wholesome 25-year-old starlet whose leading men have included Elvis Presley (Loving You, 1957), Montgomery Clift (Lonelyhearts, 1958) and George Hamilton (Where the Boys Are, 1960). She is about to sign a seven-figure contract with producer Hal Wallis. She is happily engaged to Los Angeles businessman Don Robinson.

And she walks away from it all to head behind the walls of Regina Laudis.

Crazy? No, just quietly confident.

“I adored Hollywood. I didn’t leave because it was a place of sin,” she says in a measured but upbeat tone that animates God Is the Bigger Elvis (a title taken from her simple explanation for her defection from the high life).

“I left Hollywood at the urging of a mysterious thing called vocation. It’s a call that comes from another place that we call God because we don’t have any other way to say it. It’s a call of love. Why do you climb a mountain?”

What makes the documentary unique is that Regina Laudis is a profoundly private place. Visitors must remain outside the compound. Daily life is laced with prayer, song and a lot of hard work tending to gardens, livestock and crumbling infrastructure for which the sisters are trying to raise money through the New Horizons Renovation Project (abbeyofreginalaudis.com).

Mother Dolores says she allowed access to cameras not to help with fundraising but rather to assist with soul searching.

“We wanted to invite the world into another order of life that might give some hope,” she says.

God director Rebecca Cammisa (her fellow Oscar nominee is producer Julie Anderson) felt an instant connection to the topic. Cammisa’s mother was a nun for 10 years before changing course.

“The question I had was, what makes someone with Dolores Hart’s level of success choose this way of life?” says Cammisa, a 2010 Oscar nominee for her documentary about Mexican migrant children, Which Way Home.

“It’s a countercultural choice, but this film will show people that these are highly educated, attractive women who had boyfriends and lovers but were living in a world that didn’t have enough for them,” she says.

Read more.

Comments

  1. MD Catholic says:

    Great story! Nice to read a happy story in the midst of so much angst and frustration with the overly secularized world who tries so hard to put God in a box. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I used to go to Regina Laudis for Vespers all the time – what a lovely place. It was great to read this! Thanks!

  3. Can’t wait to hear the answer when the reporter asks her, “Who are you wearing?”

  4. We love you tender sister Dolores! Viva las nuns.

  5. I don’t normally watch these award shows but it would be thrilling to see a real super star in her reverant clothing than some phony movie star in their lascivious dress. Maybe I’ll remember to watch. I pray she wins!

  6. pagansister says:

    I admire her for following her calling and giving up what would probably have been a very successful career. Great story of a life of devotion.

  7. Phyllis Zagano says:

    Good for her!

  8. She remains a member of the academy and since she joined the abbey she annually receives movie tapes ( now DVD or blue ray) of all of the nominated movies to watch and then cast her vote.

    She has never framed her vocation as an ” anti-Hollywood” basing and the voters appreciate that and for that reason alone I think her documentary has a great chance of winning. Something tells me the producers will find a way to highlight her return 53 years after being a presenter as a young starlet ( how cool would it be for her to present an award? )

  9. Mother Dolores Hart, Prioress, osb., has been commiunicating with yours truly by mail for more than ten years.
    We are both on a mission. Maybe taking different routes but expecting the destination to be very fulfilling.

  10. Good one!

  11. I have not watched the Oscars, Grammys, etc. in many years. This year, I will watch the Oscars.

  12. I wish she would not go. After those Grammy performances Hollywood looks like a place not just of sin, but of the satanic. People don’t have the respect for religious people/religion the way they used to. She will be like a space alien there. A curiosity. It’s not the world she left. imho

  13. Marlene Pike says:

    Bravo Mother Dolores….you are indeed a gift from God Thank you for being you.
    Looking forward to seeing you at the oscars.

    God bless you always.

  14. I will watch and hold my breath. When Hollywood is involved, I always fear the ulterior motive and how they believe they can use this to their agenda.

    Wonderful interview with Sister on EWTN. far better than the one above.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvpmywFyoow

Trackbacks

  1. [...] on the run for an OscarNew York PostStarlet who kissed Elvis and then became a nunIrish TimesMother Dolores Hart heads back to HollywoodPatheos (blog)Catholic News Agencyall 13 news [...]

  2. [...] 25th, 2012 by Deacon Greg KandraAnyone asking that question clearly doesn’t know about Dolores Hart — Hollywood starlet who left the movies to become a cloistered Benedictine nun in the early [...]

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