9 Vintage Hollywood Scandals That Reveal Tinseltown’s Ugly Side

Published May 11, 2021
Updated December 9, 2021

Hollywood Scandals: Studio-Pressured Abortions

Old Hollywood may seem innocent compared to today. But back then, studios maintained a vice-like grip over every aspect of their actors’ lives. Unsurprisingly, women had it harder than men.

Lana Turner

Wikimedia CommonsLana Turner in 1943.

Actresses who were seen as bombshells and sex symbols were discouraged from getting married. If they did get married, then they were forbidden from getting pregnant. And if they did get pregnant, they were often pressured into getting an abortion.

The fame and status of the actress were irrelevant. In fact, the more famous the actress, the more pressure she was under to get an abortion. Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Judy Garland, and Lana Turner all ended up having abortions at the behest of the studios.

Bette Davis

Wikimedia CommonsBette Davis in 1938.

In many cases, the abortions were arranged by the studio itself. The studio would arrange for the actress to enter a hospital under the pretense of say, an ear infection or because they “needed some rest.”

In some cases, parents of child actors were on board with these forced abortions. For example, it was Garland’s mother — working with the studio — who arranged her abortion during Garland’s marriage to David Rose.

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.