A joyfully Franciscan view of Catholic life, inspired by St. Clare (Santa Chiara) of Assisi!

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Chiara Offreduccio (St. Clare) was born in 1194. It is said that when her mother had Chiara in her womb, an angel appeared to her and said, "your child will be a light that will illuminate the world!" Hence, her mother named the child Chiara, which means "light. As G.K. Chesterton put it, St. Clare was a romantic figure just like Juliet was. However, instead of running away from her family in order to be with an earthly man, Clare gave up everything and ran away from her family for the love of her Savior!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Mother Dolores Hart: From Celluloid to Cloister







Well, being that it's Oscar night, I've decided to make a Hollywood-related post....and surprisingly, it has very much to do with this blog!

I would like to share with you the beautiful story of Dolores Hart, who was an actress deemed to be tantamount to Grace Kelly both in beauty and talent. After playing our very own Holy Mother Clare in the 1961 film Francis of Assisi, her interest in cloistered nuns was piqued and the Holy Spirit eventually led her to the wonderful Abbey of Regina Laudis in Connecticutt.

I have reproduced the following article below, taken from this webpage. Well if playing Holy Mother Clare doesn't make you want to become a nun, I don't know what will!

The Story of Mother Dolores Hart


The day Dolores Hart entered the convent, she had her limousine drop her at the gates.
(Courtesy of Delores Hart)Less than 40 years ago, Dolores Hart was one of the most visible and envied women in Hollywood.

New Role, New Life

In the late 1950s, Hart was a starlet, making thousands of dollars per week and billed as the next Grace Kelly. She was the first actress to kiss Elvis Presley on the silver screen and in a six-year period, she starred in films with Anthony Quinn, Robert Wagner, Jeff Chandler, and Montgomery Clift.
She was the top-billed actress in MGM's highest grossing move of 1962: Where the Boys Are. Today she is Mother Dolores. She lives at the Abbey of Regina Laudis in rural Connecticut, where she has been a cloistered nun for 37 years.
Through a special dispensation from the Abbey, ABCNEWS' Bob Brown was able to talk with her without being separated by a grill and walk with her outside the fences of the cloistered grounds.
Destined for Greatness

Hart was a child of the silver screen — both of her parents were actors. Though neither of them became a star, she was baptized in the glow of Hollywood. Early on, she thought she too would have a career in the movies. "I grew up on Mulholland Drive, watching the klieg lights, just enamored at the lights from Sunset Boulevard," she says.
"You can imagine what that meant to me, as a 6-year-old, to suddenly find myself wandering around 20th Century Fox movie lots, thinking that was going to be my future." Though her parents were not religious, they sent her to a parochial school in Chicago where she lived with her grandparents. Leaving Hollywood, however, was a brief diversion from her path to the silver screen. Hart grew into a striking beauty and in 1957, at the age of 18, she signed a contract with famed movie producer Hal Wallis.
And in her first picture, Loving You, she starred opposite Elvis Presley. Hart recalls that when she and Elvis were supposed to kiss, the teens blushed. "My ears start getting purple, and even his ears started getting purple," she recalls. "They brought everybody over to brush our ears down with, um, paint or whatever it is." She has fond memories of working with Elvis: "If there is one thing that I am most grateful for, it's the privilege of being one of the few persons left to acknowledge his innocence."

Finding Peace in the Country

Despite her success and celebrity, however, Hart remembers her time in show business as filled with heartache. She found it emotionally difficult to separate from her colleagues after bonding with them while shooting a movie. "You work intensely for maybe eight to 10 weeks. And then you break," she says. "And you never see the person again. It's terrible… I think that's one of the most anguishing parts of Hollywood." During a period in which she worked in New York, starring in a Broadway play, Hart would often retreat to the country on her days off. On the suggestion of a friend, she took refuge in the guest house of a Connecticut convent, Abbey of Regina Laudis.
Hart was initially hesitant about the abbey, thinking back on her experience as a Catholic schoolgirl in Chicago. But unlike Hollywood, it offered community and continuity. Its members worked hard and stayed together. Hart was hooked: "I felt that I was going to be back here sometime." More than three years after the first of several visits to the convent, Hart was engaged to be married. But instead of becoming a wife, she says she had a spiritual calling and dedicated herself to the Church and life at Regina Laudis.
For California businessman Don Robinson — Delores Hart's fiancé at the time - the news was devastating. "I actually broke down and cried," he recalls. "I couldn't believe it." New Role, New Life The day Hart entered Regina Laudise, her limousine dropped her off following a publicity event for her latest movie Come Fly with Me.
She was 24 years old. She found the transition into the sisterhood difficult. Trained as a movie star, Hart was ill prepared for the daily, disciplined ebb and flow of cloistered life. Seven years passed, she says, before she felt completely comfortable with her decision to join the order.
Decades later, Robinson still lives in Los Angeles and has never married. He continues to visit the woman he now knows as Mother Dolores each year. He says their love has sustained itself — albeit in ways very different from what he'd imagined as a younger man. "We have grown together. Like we would have in our marriage," he says, "She's my life."
In recent years, Mother Dolores's health has declined. She suffers from a nerve condition that sometimes leaves her in extreme pain. And even though she clearly made a choice to become a nun, she says it was not a choice to abandon who she was. "I have struggled with this call to vocation all my life," she says. "I can understand why people have doubts, because who understands God? I don't. When you are dealing with something at this level, you are dealing with mystery."

Mother Dolores and the Oscars

Mother Dolores, formerly Delores Hart, is still a member of the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences. But she has not been able to vote for the Oscar winners since joining the Abbey of Regina Laudis — she cannot leave the abbey to see the films. Recently, however, she has asked the Academy to reinstate her as a voting member. She plans to watch the films on home video.

11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a fan of Delores Hart the actress when I saw her in "Where the Boys Are", in 1962. Now, I am a bigger fan of her's as Mother Delores. Thank you Mother Delores for doing our Lord's work. Your work in the convent is bigger than any work you could have done on the stage. Sorry, to hear about the nerve pain you are suffering from. I will pray that our Lord will take your pain away.

6:42 PM  
Anonymous dick said...

i too remember seeing dolores in loving you with elvis, i couldnt believe that someone who looked that pure could be in movies, and i was only about 12 yrs old at the time, delores always had a quality about her that was different, would have loved to meet her .. dick rivett tampa, florida

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ever since hearing that Mother Dolores requested seeing films on video so she could vote for the academy awards, I have wondered if she was able to get through some of the degenerate filth that passes for entertainment coming out of Hollywood these days.It's a long way from the innocent Elvis movies of the sixties.

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Kim said...

Wow, I never thought that their is an actress in Hollywood who become a cloistered nun. God bless Mother Dolores.

12:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mother Dolores, you are an inspiration to us all. May God bless you and keep you well.
I know it's a difficult calling from God to give up your life to follow him. He has his reasons for doing so, and we have to accept whatever he gives us, that is the mystery we'll never understand.
God bless and keep you in his loving care.

11:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw Deloris Hart, now a cloistered nun on EWTN. I was wondering if she was a former actress. :)
This certainly was a transition for her. The Lord calls special people and she ansered His call.
God bless her.
Jean

10:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband and I just finished watching the movie "Francis of Assissi" and I remember Delores Hart from my teen years, thinking she was such a lovely woman with an inner quality that most actors do not have. My curiosity of her subsequent years in the convent lead me to this website/blog. My fondness and respect for Mother Dolores continues. She is a wonderful example of a life laid down for the Lord Jesus. May her witness bring many, especially young women, to the Lord.
God bless you, Mother Dolores.
Jane Shu

12:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm watching Lisa on rerun and have always loved Dolores Hart. Surprised but not shocked this beautiful woman could become as she seemed - a nun. Blessing to you, lovely lady and your devotion and inspiration. You'll never be forgotten and always admired
Marylin of MO

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are indeed God's gift to all
of us and one that I will treasure
forever.
MP

2:34 PM  
Blogger Maggy said...

I am in awe of Don Robinson. What a love story...would love to hear more about him...how wonderful that thier love has endure on such a high and powerful leve,
Maggy Murray, CA

5:16 PM  
Anonymous Don H said...

When I saw you in "Where The BOys Are" I feel in love with you. Now Mother Dolores, I still love and even more. Saw you on EWTN you still look great!

Don H.

2:49 PM  

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