Old Hollywood Scandals That History Forgot
Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford, And Judy Garland Had Studio-Pressured Abortions
In old Hollywood, the studios controlled the lives of actors, and they strongly believed a bombshell couldn’t get married or, most especially, pregnant. When Jean Harlow became pregnant during an affair with William Powell, the studio arranged for her to enter a hospital under a pseudonym to “get some rest.”
Betty Davis, Joan Crawford, Judy Garland, Talluhah Bankkhead, Jeanette McDonald, Lana Turner, and Dorothy Dandridge all had abortions arranged by the studios, often against their wishes. To quote Vainity Fair:
In the 1930s, vamp, and man-eating thespian Tallulah Bankhead got “abortions like other women got permanent waves,” biographer Lee Israel quips in Miss Tallula Bankhead. When virtuous singing sensation Jeanette McDonald found herself pregnant in 1935, MGM studio boss Louis B. Mayer told Strickling to “get rid of the problem.” McDonald soon checked into a hospital with an “ear infection,” according to Fleming’s The Fixers.