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Change Of Habit



Shooting began March 1969 and completed on May 2, 1969

Opened nationally November 10, 1969

Character:  Dr. John Carpenter

Producer: Joe Connelly

Director: William Graham



Dr. John Carpenter heads a clinic in a ghetto area of a major metropolis. He is surprised to be offered assistance by three women. Unknown to him, the three are nuns in street clothing who want to aid the community but are afraid the local residents might be reluctant to seek help if their true identities were known. Dr. Carpenter falls in love with Sister Michelle Gallagher but Sister Michelle's true vocation remains unknown to Dr. Carpenter. Sister Michelle also has feelings for the good doctor., but she is reluctant to leave the order. The film concludes with Sister Michelle entering a church to pray for guidance to make her choice-the church or Dr. Carpenter.



"Change of Habit"-sung over the opening credits.

"Rubberneckin'"-Sung in John Carpenter's apartment above the Washington Street Clinic.

"Have a Happy"-Sung on the merry-go-round after a touch football game.

"Let Us Pray"-Sung at Father Gibbon's Catholic Church at the end of the film.

"Let's Be Friends" was cut from the film. In the nuns' apartment, Elvis played "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" on the piano with "guitar accompaniment" by Sister Michelle (Mary Tyler Moore). "Let's Forget About the Stars" was recorded for the film but not used.



Dr. John Carpenter - Elvis Presley

Sister Michelle Gallagher - Mary Tyler Moore

Sister Irene Hawkins - Barbara McNair

Sister Barbara Bennett - Jane Elliot

Mother Joseph - Leora Dana

Lieutenant Moretti - Edward Asner

The Banker - Robert Emhardt

Father Gibbons - Regis Toomey

Rose - Doro Merande

Lily - Ruth McDevitt

Bishop Finley - Richard Carlson

Julio Hernandez - Nefti Millet

Desiree - Laura Figueroa

Amanda Parker - Lorena Kirk

Miss Parker - Virginia Vincent

Colom - David Renard

Hawk - Ji-Tu Cumbuka

Robbie - Bill Elliott

Mr. Hernandez - Rudolfo Hoyos

1st Stiletto Deb - Lilith Miles

2nd Stiletto Deb - Caitlin Wyles

Expectant Mother - Linda Garay

Tomas - Alex Val

Tony - Alex Tinne

Maria - Stella Garcia

Fat Man - Harry Swoger

Chino - Tony Decosta

Father Witkowski - Jim Beach

Ajax Market Manager - Timothy Carey

1st Underling - John Daheim

2nd Underling - Troy Melton

Traffic Cop - Stanley Schneider

Man in Scene 93 - Pepe Hern

2nd Man - Frank Corsentino

3rd Man - Paul Factor

Man in Scene 166 - Steve Conte

Teammate - Robert Deanda

Cuban Mainliner - Roberto Vargas

Woman in Market - Rita Conde

Senora Gavilan - Araceli Rey

Police Sergeant - Len Wayland

Ice Cream Clerk - Ray Ballard

1st Young Man - Mario Aniov

2nd Young Man - A. Martinez

The Blossoms - Themselves


Production Notes:

Exteriors were shot in Los Angeles in the area of Fifth and Main streets, while interiors were photographed on Stage D at Universal Studios.

Change of Habit was a fictionalized account of Sister Mary Olivia Gibson's work with handicapped children. Sister Mary was head of speech  clinic at Maria Regina College in Syracuse, NY. In working with children who had speech problems, she used variations of theatrical technique.

Most of the exterior scenes were filmed in the area of 5th and Main streets in downtown Los Angeles. 

During filming, a dozen large rats used in a ghetto apartment scene got loose on Stage D. The crew and actors had to temporarily vacate the premises while animal handlers rounded them up.

A couple of weeks before its national release, Change of Habit was screened for psychiatrists, psychologists, and educators from Los Angeles and San Jose who were involved with autistic children.

Change of Habit reached as high as #17 on Variety's weekly list of top-grossing films.

The network TV debut of Change of Habit occurred on NBC's "Friday Night at the Movies" on October 20, 1972.


Washington Street Clinic located in New York City was run by Dr. John Carpenter. The clinic's address was 934 Washington Street and the telephone number was Madison 6-7234.

Sisters Michelle, Barbara, and Irene belonged to the Order of Little Sisters of Mary.

Sister Michelle was psychiatric social worker with a degree in speech therapy; Sister Barbara was a laboratory technician; and Sister Irene was a registered nurse with a degree in public health.

Dr.  John Carpenter was from Shelby County, Tennessee (as Elvis was).

The Blossoms could be singing backup in the "Rubberneckin'" and "Let Us Pray" numbers.

Located across the street from the nuns' apartment saw Celestial Gardens, Maria's Cafe, and a liquor store.

Sister Michelle had five brothers.

During the touch football game, Sister Michelle wore a sweatshirt form the Notre Dame Athletic Department. Dr. Carpenter's sweatshirt was from the University of Tennessee at Memphis.

Sergeant Cal Edwards was in Dr. Carpenter's former Army unit. Cal was from Washington Street and it was because Carpenter felt he owed Cal something for his friendship that he came to Washington street.

The august 3rd street festival Fiesta of San Juan of Chequez was sponsored by the nuns. The festival was named in honor of the patron saint of Caribbean fishermen.

After the closing credits of Change of Habit, there was a plug for Universal Studios: "When in Southern California, Visit Universal City Studios".


In the film's opening credits, a sign on the side of a bus advertised KDAY radio, a Los Angeles station. The film, however, was set in New York City.


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