Nun publishes memoir 50 years after forsaking Hollywood

(Photo: Reuters / Lucas Jackson)Mother Delores Hart, the subject of the nominated documentary short film "God is the Bigger Elvis," arrives at the 84th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California, February 26, 2012.

The Academy Awards are as much about fashion as they are about cinema.

Hollywood takes seriously the opportunity to dress to impress, as exemplified by 2013 Best Actress winner Jennifer Lawrence who wore not one, but two gowns - one a sprawling, pink Christian Dior Couture and the other a slinky, silver Calvin Klein Collection.

But it was 73-year-old Dolores Hart, the leading lady opposite Elvis Presley in the 1957 film "Loving You," who arrived at this year's ceremony in what could arguably be considered the most dramatic wardrobe choice of the evening: a nun's habit.

Hart - now known as Mother Dolores Hart - left her multi-film contract with Metro Goldwyn Mayer in 1963 to become a Benedictine nun, and was the star of the 2012 Oscar-nominated documentary about her life, "God is the Bigger Elvis."

But, now, Mother Hart is ready to tell her own story.

On Tuesday, Mother Hart released her memoir, "The Ear of the Heart: An Actress' Journey from Hollywood to Holy Vows."

The 480-page volume published by Ignatius Press chronicles Mother Hart's life from her childhood and conversion to Catholicism at the age of 10, through the past 50 years of her life as a sister and now the prioress at the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Conn.

"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 [the monastery]," she told the Catholic News Agency on Monday.

Mother Hart was 24 when she entered cloistered life.

She was engaged at the time, had 10 films and a Tony Award nomination under her belt and was famously known for giving Elvis his first on-screen kiss.

But she says she felt God calling her to a different life.

"I left the world I knew in order to reenter it on a more profound level," writes in the book.

"Many people don't understand the difference between a vocation and your own idea about something. A vocation is a call – one you don't necessarily want. The only thing I ever wanted to be was an actress. But I was called by God."

Mother Hart has said that skills she cultivated as an actress have helped her in religious life - namely listening - and she has continued to have a foot in the acting world.

She is still a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and screens Oscar nominated films in the abbey basement.

"I never felt I was leaving Hollywood," she says in the documentary about her life. "I never felt I was leaving anything that I was given. The abbey was like a grace of God that just entered my life in a way that was totally unexpected — and God was the vehicle. He was the bigger Elvis."

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