Thursday 13 August 2015

Sister Mary Benedict Based on Director Leo McCarey's Aunt

"[She was] a very sporty, laughing girl who liked boxing and tennis, who adored children and caring for them, and built for herself a life full of love and faith." (Leo McCarey:  From Marx to McCarthy, Wes D. Gehring)

Sister Benedict, played by Ingrid Bergman in the movie Bells of St. Mary's, was the aunt of director Leo McCarey.  Just as the character in the movie helped acquire a new building for her school, the real Sister Benedict helped build Immaculate Heart Convent in Hollywood.  Just as the character in the movie loved boxing, Sister Benedict was fascinated with the sport; her father, a boxing promoter, likely taught her everything she knew.  Just as the nun in the film had a winning smile, so too did Sister Benedict.

Leo McCarey explained:  "[My aunt] made a great impression on my life [and] she had a wonderful sense of humor.  We were close friends and I learned from her the magic of a smile."  Sadly, just as the character in the film suffered from a disease, tuberculosis, Sister Benedict suffered from typhoid fever.  But before she passed away, Ingrid Bergman was able to get acquainted with her personality and study her mannerisms.

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