9 Vintage Hollywood Scandals That Reveal Tinseltown’s Ugly Side

Published May 11, 2021
Updated December 9, 2021

Joan Crawford Starred In At Least One Adult Movie

Life could be difficult for young actresses in old Hollywood. Even extremely talented women often struggled to make ends meet at the start of their careers.

Joan Crawford

Wikimedia CommonsJoan Crawford in 1948.

Joan Crawford was one such woman. While today we remember Crawford as one of the greatest female stars of old Hollywood, her life as a young actress was far from glamorous. In fact, it has been alleged that as a teenager, Crawford starred in a few pornographic films, including Velvet Lips, The Casting Couch, and The Plumber, just to make ends meet.

Since Crawford was one of MGM’s biggest stars, the studio supposedly employed a fixer to partner with the mob and make this embarrassing Hollywood scandal go away. While allegations of Crawford starring in adult films have never been confirmed — and Crawford herself denied their existence — some evidence seems to exist.

For example, when Crawford left MGM in 1943 she paid the studio $50,000, possibly repaying hush money.

Vintage Hollywood Scandals Joan Crawford

Wikimedia CommonsJoan Crawford in 1936, a few years before she became a truly successful actress.

In addition, Crawford’s first husband Douglas Fairbanks Jr. has suggested that Crawford starred in at least one adult movie, saying:

“Billie was absolutely terrified that I would find out about a film she had made when she was in a financially desperate moment. When she told me about it, as we began to get very involved, she said, ‘I have to tell you in case it makes a difference.’ I tried to get as many details from her as possible, especially as to what she wore or didn’t wear in the film, and specifically what she did in the film, but I only got tears.”

Laura Martisiute
Laura Martisiute is a freelance writer based in Tramore, Ireland. In her spare time, she likes to explore secret beaches, pet cats, and read.
Kaleena Fraga
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Kaleena Fraga has also had her work featured in The Washington Post and Gastro Obscura, and she published a book on the Seattle food scene for the Eat Like A Local series. She graduated from Oberlin College, where she earned a dual degree in American History and French.