Mother Dolores Hart: Lifelong role suits her (LATimes interview)

Mother Dolores Hart: Lifelong role suits her (LATimes interview) July 10, 2013

Mother Dolores Hart, a Roman Catholic nun and former actress, was the subject of the Oscar-nominated documentary “God Is the Bigger Elvis.” (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times / June 25, 2013)

By Susan KingJuly 5, 2013, 5:00 a.m.
Dolores Hart was one of Hollywood’s top ingenues, giving Elvis Presley his first screen kiss in 1957’s “Loving You” and then reuniting with him a year later in “King Creole.” She worked with such legends as Anthony Quinn and Anna Magnani in 1957’s “Wild Is the Wind” and Robert Ryan and Montgomery Clift in 1958’s “Lonelyhearts,” then earned a Tony Award nomination in 1959 for her first play, the romantic comedy “The Pleasure of His Company.”

A devout Catholic since the age of 10, she broke off her engagement to Don Robinson in 1963 and entered the cloistered Benedictine Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Conn., where as Mother Dolores Hart she has lead a life of contemplation and hospitality. She has become a mother prioress and the abbey is flourishing, with a professional theater group performing in the summer, internships and several new postulants.

Now Mother Dolores is somewhat of a public figure again. Last year, she attended the Academy Awards when the HBO documentary “God Is the Bigger Elvis,” which chronicled the day-to-day life of the nuns in the abbey, was a nominee, and she is just finishing the first leg of a book tour for her autobiography, “The Ear of the Heart: An Actress’ Journey From Hollywood to Holy Vows,” which she wrote with her longtime friend, Richard DeNeut.

Relaxing in a lounge at a convent in Culver City, Mother Dolores, 74, is friendly and a bit of a character. A Mac aficionado, she keeps her iPhone in the pocket of her habit and her digital camera handy, snapping photographs of everyone she meets so she can share them with members of the abbey.

You were born Baptist but converted to Catholicism when you were 10 years old, when you were a student at Catholic school. I loved the story you tell in the book that it was your desire for sweet rolls that help lead to the conversion.

If you recall, in those years you had to fast from midnight on before you had Communion in the morning. The children who took Communion had sweet rolls and chocolate doughnuts afterwards. I had Shredded Wheat and cornflakes at home with Granny. So one day I said to one of the sisters, “I really would love to have the bread with the children.” I was talking about the sweet rolls.

But she thought you meant the Communion wafer.

Yes. She went to the priest and said …. click HERE to continue reading this lovely interview.

Mother Dolores on KTLA during her recent visit to Los Angeles:

A video used to be embedded here but the service that it was hosted on has shut down.


Browse Our Archives