Actress Had Abortion to Get Role in Nun Movie, Then Was Saved by Real Nun After Botched Abortion

Penny Starr | January 30, 2017 | 12:37pm EST
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Biographer and former actress Patricia Bosworth has written a book about her years with the Actors Studio in New York City and working alongside acting icons such as Paul Newman and Marilyn Monroe.

In an interview with National Public Radio on Saturday that focused on the book, The Men in My Life: A Memoir of Life and Love in 1950s Manhattan, Bosworth spoke about her role as a nun in the 1959 film “A Nun’s Story” – a role she felt she could keep only if she had an abortion.

Bosworth said on the same day she landed the role she found out she was pregnant and decided to pay $500 cash for an illegal abortion.

“I realized I didn't want to have a child at that point” Bosworth, now 83, said. “I knew that having an abortion would be a difficult experience. I didn't realize how difficult both physiologically and psychologically.... I did have the abortion and the doctor had given me some pills because I was about to go to Rome on a plane.”

“We stopped off in Paris,” Bosworth said. “I had these pills I was supposed to take in case I might hemorrhage on the plane because of the altitude.”

But Bosworth left the pills in the airport restroom and started hemorrhaging.

In Rome, she was asked to meet with nuns to study for her upcoming role as a nun whose mentor was another nun played by Audrey Hepburn.

“And I was, for some reason, sent to a hospital convent called the Salvator Mundi hospital, which was run by nuns,” Bosworth said. “I was supposed to talk to this nun about what it was like to be a nun.”

“So I got there, and luckily she spoke English, and the minute she saw me she said, ‘Oh, Miss Bosworth, you don't look well at all,’” Bosworth said. “And I said, ‘Oh, I'm fine, I'm fine.’”

“She said, ‘No, I really don't think you are well, I think you should go back to the hotel and rest ... if you continue to feel badly, here's my phone number and you can phone me."

Bosworth did call the nun, confessing that she had had an abortion and that she feared she was dying.

“She rushed me back to the hospital and I got to the operating room and the doctor sewed me up, and he was very angry at me,” Bosworth said. “He said: ‘I've been working with actresses for too many years! Sewing them up! And you're a fool! Why didn't you take precautions!’”

“He really chewed me out,” Bosworth said.

Bosworth said the nun that saved her life did not judge her but instead encouraged her.

I said to her, "Sister, I could have died,” and she said, “‘Well, you didn't die because God has plans for you.’”

“’You're going to stay around a little longer,’” Bosworth recalled her saying. “She never made a judgment.”

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