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The Nun who kissed Elvis: From Hollywood to holy vows

 

In the 1950s Dolores Hart had a promising career in Hollywood. She’d starred opposite Elvis Presley in his first movie, ‘Loving You,’ and appeared in movies with Anthony Quinn, Montgomery Clift and Myrna Loy. 

But at the peak of her career Hart stunned Hollywood by quitting the business and entering the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Conn. Now Mother Dolores, she has written a book about her life called ‘the Ear of the Heart: An Actress’ Journey from Hollywood to Holy Vows.’ She spoke to FOX411 about her fascinating life and, of course, about Elvis.

FOX411: You were not born a Catholic.

Dolores Hart: When I was 10 the kids who took communion got chocolate milk and donuts when they got to school. As a non-Catholic I had to have my breakfast before I got to school. One day I said to the Sister, ‘I’d really love to have bread with the Catholic children.’ She thought I meant the sacred presence, the real bread. She said, ‘Well if you would like to do this you have to take lessons.’ So I began to take lesson and I found I really responded very much to it.

FOX411: So you ended up a nun for chocolate milk and donuts.

Hart: (Laughs) - I guess that’s the truth.

FOX411: So tell us about Elvis.

Hart: When I met him our kissing scene was one of the very first ones we filmed. When I met him I didn’t know who Elvis Presley was. I hadn’t followed rock and roll so when I met him he was just this very nice charming kid who I thought was lovely and he would call me Miss. Dolores.

When we got into the kiss there were about 100 people on the soundstage and seconds into it the director Hal Kanter yells, ‘Cut!’ and I thought, ‘Oh no how can I kiss wrong?’ He said, ‘Dolores, I’m sorry you’re blushing. Your ears are red. We’re going to need makeup.’ Oh so embarrassing! So they fixed me up and we started again and seconds later he said, ‘Cut! Get some makeup for Mister Presley!’

FOX411: Did he ever make a pass?

Hart: He asked me to got out and I told him that I didn’t think that would be what I would like to do while we were filming because it confuses things and maybe after the film, well after the film he didn’t ask me out again!

FOX411: You get coddled on a movie set. When you first went into the monastery were you like, ‘What did I get myself into?’

Hart: Yes indeed! For a long, long time I cried myself to sleep at night wondering what did I get myself into.

FOX411: Couldn’t you have left?

Hart: I could have but I deeply did not want to. When I would really face it I would say, ‘No, I want to find out what is in this, what is on the other side. What am I here for?’

FOX411: Did you ever regret not having children?

Hart: Oh of course. But when I was in the monastery long enough I began to understand that this was another form of motherhood. It was taking care of people’s lives. Things that all mothers do who are real mothers.

FOX411: You’re a member of the Academy. Do you still vote at Oscar time?

Hart: I do indeed because I think it’s a very real responsibility and I do believe Hollywood has a mission. If they could consistently do films like ‘Les Miserables’ for example. There are films that can really help people. Everything doesn’t have to be trash.

FOX411: How’s your track record?

Hart: I get some of it right. What I can’t understand is how a film can be nominated as the best and the director won’t be nominated. I haven’t caught onto that yet.

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