Earlier this month in American Profile (a weekly magazine distributed through small-town newspapers which claims to be for “people who aren’t afraid to shed a tear when the flag passes”), a reader wrote in inquiring about Debbie Reynolds and the real “Singing Nun.”
Q: In 1966 Debbie Reynolds starred in the movie The Singing Nun. Can you tell us a little bit about Debbie? Whatever became of the real “singing nun”?
—David Woodworth, Polk, Pa.
Born in El Paso, Texas, Reynolds, now 77, moved with her family to California during her childhood. At 16, she became Miss Burbank and went on to star in films such as Singin’ in the Rain and The Unsinkable Molly Brown. She also hit the pop music charts with “Aba Daba Honeymoon” and “Tammy.” She continues to pursue a site for her Hollywood Motion Picture Museum, a $50 million collection of movie memorabilia. Belgium’s Jeanine Deckers, who became known as “The Singing Nun” after her international hit “Dominique” in 1963, died in 1985.
Well I guess that is one way to gloss over the life and tragic ending of the real Singing Nun, also known as Soeur Sourire (Sister Smile). In fact, Jeanine Deckers and her life partner Anna Pécher killed themselves by overdosing on barbiturates and alcohol, having made a suicide pact after a failed battle with the Belgian government over back taxes from the proceeds of Deckers’ chart-topping hit “Dominique.” Deckers had given all of her money to the convent and opened a school for autistic children (she also penned a song praising God for inventing the birth-control pill!), but was unable to provide satisfactory documentation proving her donations. In a last attempt to turn her financial situation around, Deckers released a disco remix in 1982 with the hopes of once again outselling Elvis.
How about a remake of The Singing Nun? Her real life was certainly far more interesting than the perky portrayal by Debbie Reynolds.
TOP: Soeur Sourire’s album cover for “The Best of Soeur Sourire.”
UPDATE: There is a remake, complete with lesbian love story! See the first comment below….