Saint Bernadette Soubirous in 'The Song of Bernadette' (1943)
Jennifer Jones was a relative unknown when she took on the role of Bernadette, loosely based on the life of Saint Bernadette Soubirous. In the film, the Virgin Mary takes an interest in young Bernadette and pays her a series of shimmering visits in a cave near Lourdes, France. Folks are understandably skeptical that Bernadette's suddenly BFF with the Blessed Virgin, but after a healing spring miraculously, um, springs forth in the cave, the Catholic Church decides Bernadette's not only telling the truth, but a saint-in-the-making. Church officials toss her in a convent where she eventually dies of tuberculosis. Unintended moral: If you see the Virgin Mary anywhere, it might be best to keep it to yourself.
Jones won an Academy Award for her uber-reverent portrayal of the saint, beating out such Hollywood luminaries as Ingrid Bergman, Joan Fontaine, and Greer Garson. Word was out that the nunnery was, ironically, a good stop on the way to claiming Hollywood's own golden idol.