In 1957, Dolores Hart made her feature film debut alongside none other than Elvis Presley. That movie kickstarted what could have been a glittering career, but Hart ultimately wasn’t destined to be a silver screen icon. In fact, after just ten films, including a second with the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, she disappeared from the spotlight. But Hart had a reason for going AWOL, as she was taking her life in a completely different direction — one that’s practically as far away from Hollywood as you can get.
Initially, though, that illustrious beginning in Loving You seemed to set the tone for Hart’s career trajectory. After that picture was a hit, she went on to play the beautiful love interest in movies such as Lonelyhearts and Where the Boys Are. And as Hart’s popularity grew, so did her list of leading men.
Yes, from 1957 to 1963, Hart would share the screen with many of the era’s biggest male stars, including George Hamilton, Montgomery Clift and Stephen Boyd. But the up-and-coming actress didn’t just appear in movie theaters during that period.
Hart also made a number of TV appearances during her career, with roles on Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Playhouse 90 introducing her to the audiences watching her at home. And the parts seemingly just kept coming. There was a second movie with Elvis, for one, as Hart and the musical icon joined forces once again for 1958’s King Creole.
A very personal role
However, after starring in Where the Boys Are in 1960, Hart made a significant career move. Up until that point, she had portrayed somewhat frivolous characters on the big screen; now, though, she decided to take on a part that had considerably more weight. And playing St. Clare in 1961’s Francis of Assisi may well have had an effect on Hart. For while the film was both a critical and box-office flop, it nonetheless appears to have made the young star take stock of her life.