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article imageShe kissed Elvis and became a nun; documentary airs on HBO

By Tim O'Brien     Mar 18, 2012 in Entertainment
It is true that Mother Prioress of the Abbey of Regina Laudis once kissed Elvis Presley. It is also true that when she did her name was Delores Hart, an actress on the rise.
But, after 10 movies, she gave up the acting career and decided to become a Benedictine nun. Hart, whose career included starring with Elvis in "Loving You," was also the main subject of the Oscar nominated "God is Bigger Than Elvis." The documentary will be shown exclusively on HBO starting April 5. It was in the film "Loving You" where she was on the receiving end of Elvis' first on screen kiss.
In a press release, the decision to become a nun surprised many, including her fiance. At the time she was engaged to Don Robinson. As he tells it in the documentary, he was "devastated." He also tells of the heartbreak with the decision. It was also revealed that he visited the monastery once a year. She puts her move this way. "I never felt I was leaving Hollywood," she said. "God was the vehicle, the 'bigger Elvis,' " she added.
The decision was not something that came out of the clear blue sky, as the release notes. After she performed on Broadway in "The Pleasures of His Company," she needed a break. She headed to the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Conn., at the suggestion of a friend. After she returned to Hollywood she received a letter from Regina Laudis. In the letter were the words stating if she wanted to be a nun, now was the time.
So, Hart did not grow up to be a nun, it just happened. "It was not a lifelong dream. I did not grow up wanting to be a nun. I wanted to be an actress. If it had ever been suggested I would one day be a nun, it would have been the last thing on my mind. It was a million to one shot I would ever be a nun," she said at the time.
Besides "Loving You," she also starred in another film with Elvis, "King Creole." Other highlights included a stint with Anthony Quinn in "Wild is the Wind." Others include "Where the Boys Are," "Francis of Assisi" and "Come Fly with Me," which would be her last film. She appeared on television as well in an episode of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and "The Virginian."
"God is Bigger Than Elvis" is described as providing a look at the daily activities inside the Benedictine monastery. Regina Laudis is a 400-acre working farm that is home to 36 nuns. They follow a strict prayer regimen with daily periods of silence. They also are well-versed in farming, animal care and crafts.
In a nutshell, though, according to its website, The Abbey of Regina Laudis, founded in 1947 in Bethlehem, Connecticut, is a community of contemplative Benedictine women dedicated to the praise of God through prayer and work. The nuns of the abbey chant the Mass and full Divine office each day.
When asked about kissing Elvis and then leaving to become a nun, she quipped, "How much closer to Heaven can you get?" As for Hollywood, she knew the pitfalls. She has said in the past how she saw how needlessly competitive and negative it could be. "It never held my interest."
Hart was born Delores Hicks in Chicago in 1938. At the most recent Academy Awards, she could be seen walking the red carpet. Again, "God is Bigger Than Elvis" was nominated for Documentary Short. She is also a voting member of the Academy, and is the only nun to be in the ranks.
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