Arts & Entertainment

Sister Jean Talks Old Hollywood and Sinatra

Murillo B. GonçalvesIf you've ever wondered what Sister Jean's favorite movie is, look no further. The PHOENIX decided to ask her.

At the core of Loyola’s spirit lies Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, known best as Sister Jean. Famous for sporting her bright red sweater and passing out the sweetest gift of all — a smile —  to everyone she meets around campus, the men’s basketball chaplain has been the welcoming face of the university for years.

While most Ramblers know who Sister Jean is, not everyone knows what entertainment she enjoys. To find out, the PHOENIX sat down with Sister Jean to hear about her favorite music and movies and her early years as a teacher in North Hollywood.

Sister Jean’s music taste was greatly influenced by her old Hollywood living experience. When thinking about her favorites, the timeless, vocal jazz singer Frank Sinatra came to mind. Sinatra’s children went to the school where Sister Jean taught eighth grade. She reminisced about the times Sinatra would occasionally pick up his children from school and she’d catch a glimpse of him. Her favorite Sinatra song is “My Way.”

“I like the way he sings, he always put in his whole heart and soul,” Sister Jean said.

Since Sister Jean’s office is in the heart of the Damen Student Center, she gets a sample of today’s popular music from what’s played in Damen and certainly doesn’t have an affinity for, say, Migos.

“Songs in those days had meaningful words, not necessarily love songs, but gentle words. Now it’s the same words repeated harshly,” Sister Jean said.

Although not a fan of modern music, Sister Jean enjoys beautiful instrumental music, such as overtures of operas.

“Sometimes it’s better to not have the words, so it’s not distracting” she said.

Out of sacred music, Sister Jean’s favorites are the elegant “Ave Maria” and “Pamis Angelicus.” She said she finds church music “soothing and gentle.” It’s easy to tell how much Sister Jean appreciates these songs by how she lit up while talking about them.

Similar to her music taste, Sister Jean has a soft spot for classic films. In 1925 — 92 years ago — she saw “Showboat” at the Saturday matinee for 10 cents. It was the first silent film she’d ever seen. She said families at the time would be with their non-English speaking immigrant grandparents, and the kids would whisper the subtitles aloud to them.

One of Sister Jean’s favorite movies is “Citizen Kane,” and she said every communications major should watch it. As for movie stars, two of her favorites are Leslie Caron (“An American In Paris,” “Gigi”) and Gene Kelly (“Singin’ in the Rain,” “An American in Paris”). Sister Jean was shocked that I hadn’t seen the film “Singin’ in the Rain”  with Kelly and she easily convinced me to watch it with her involuntary sweet charm. Sister Jean explained it was a classic that everyone should see.

Sister Jean said she is also fond of mystery movies, but not murder movies — she finds them too gruesome.

Sister Jean enjoys the classics of music and film. She is an old soul — her stories of the “olden days” captivated me. If you’re a fan of Sinatra, Gene Kelly or the beautiful “Ave Maria,” you might want to strike up a conversation with Loyola’s most devoted fan.

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