The autobiography of Mother Dolores Hart (written with her long-time friend, Richard DeNeut), The Ear of the Heart: An Actress' Journey from Hollywood to Holy Vows
, is now available from Ignatius Press. Here is some of the descriptive copy, from the Ignatius Press site:
Dolores Hart stunned Hollywood in 1963, when after ten highly successful
feature films, she chose to enter a contemplative monastery. ...
Dolores was a bright and beautiful college student when she made her film debut with Elvis Presley in Paramount's 1957 Loving You.
She acted in nine more movies with other big stars such as Montgomery
Clift, Anthony Quinn and Myrna Loy. She also gave a Tony-nominated
performance in the Broadway play The Pleasure of His Company and appeared in television shows, including The Virginian and Playhouse 90. An important chapter in her life occurred while playing Saint Clare in the movie Francis of Assisi, which was filmed on location in Italy.
Born Dolores Hicks to a complicated and colorful Chicago family, Mother
Dolores has travelled a charmed yet challenging road in her journey
toward God, serenity and, yes, love. She entered the Abbey of Regina
Laudis in Bethlehem, Connecticut, at the peak of her career, not in
order to leave the glamorous world of acting she had dreamed of since
childhood, but in order to answer a mysterious call she heard with the
"ear of the heart". While contracted for another film and engaged to be
married, she abandoned everything to become a bride of Christ.
Mother Dolores Hart has been given special permission to give some interviews about her life as a young actress, her response to the call to enter the convent, and her life as a cloistered sister. Here are some links to and excerpts from those
"Hollywood actress-turned-nun details vocation in new book" (Catholic News Agency, May 7, 2013):
“I have used the analogy of falling from a 20 story building because
that’s what I felt like the first night after I entered,” Mother Hart
told CNA May 6.
When she was approached by her life-long friend Richard DeNeut some 10
years ago about the possibility of writing a memoir, she feared that she
would have neither the time nor the memory to write all “the wonderful
things that happened” into a book.
However, DeNeut insisted saying that her memoir would be “very good” and “very important” for others to read.
The friends began speaking for about an hour each day over the phone and
Skype to get her story on paper and eventually they had enough material
for a book.
However, they ran into difficulty when many publishers wanted to start
the book with her role in “Loving You,” the 1957 film where she gave
Elvis Presley his first on-screen kiss which would have left out
details of her turbulent upbringing and childhood conversion to
Eventually the pair turned to Ignatius Press, the California-based
Catholic publisher because they “promised they would stay honest” to her
story, Mother Hart said.
“We didn’t do it because they were a Catholic publisher,” she said, “mainly because they made that promise.”
Continue reading on the CNA site.
"Mother Dolores Hart: From Movie Star to Heavenly Star" (National Catholic Register, May 6, 2013):
What did you find as your biggest challenge in the abbey?
The biggest challenge for me was learning Latin. I still don’t know it,
and I still have to go back and read it and say, "This is what it
means." I can’t pick up a Psalm and read through it like some of the
novices can. I just never, never could get over the hump. I failed Latin
in school, too! [She chuckles.] ...
What’s important for our readers to know that you’re rarely asked about?
The one thing is the Gregorian chant, and what a gift it is to be able
to sing and to pray at the same time. I think that I would hate to see
people lose that part of the Tradition of the Church, because the chant
goes back over a thousand years.
People come to the chapel, to this church, sometimes to just hear the
chant sung [the nuns chant the Mass and full Divine Office eight times
every day in Latin, as prescribed by St. Benedict].
I think that’s a very beautiful and wonderful gift for someone: to be
able to sing their prayer. It changes something inside of you in a way I
can’t describe. But I think it’s deeply prayerful. … And you have to
believe in what you sing.
Continue reading on the Register's site.
Elvis to Jesus: Mother Dolores Hart talks about her extraordinary
journey from a blossoming career in Hollywood to something quite
JWK: You didn’t grow up Catholic, did you?
MOTHER DOLORES: Well, actually, I had been sent to
Catholic school by my grandparents because they didn’t want me to cross
the streetcar tracks. So, they sent me to the local Catholic school…We
had the custom in those days where you had to fast from midnight and I
was so jealous of the kids that got the sweet rolls and chocolate milk. I
had to eat at home a breakfast beforehand. So, one day I said to the
teacher “I really would love to take the bread with the children.” And
she said “Really?!”, thinking what I meant was that I wanted the
Eucharist. So, she told the priest “I think the little girl would like
to be a Catholic.” (Then) she said “Well, if you want the bread with
the children, you have to take the course and until you understand the
faith.” So, I went home and said to Granny “If I take the Catholic
course I can have the sweet rolls!” ...
JWK: What do you say to people who view Hollywood as anti-religion? Do you subscribe to that view?
JWK: What would you like people to take from your story?
MOTHER DOLORES: I
would hope people would in reading this one story of one life, and a
life that went through all the different possibilities in life, that
they would see that out of loving one another you can find faith in God
because the Lord said this is the way that you know him is to love one
another. So, you’re not gonna have a vision of God coming down. I don’t
believe that’s the way it works. I think the way it works is that when
you see someone else, you get to know them and you love them and serve
their life, that to me is what brings you to the reality of Jesus