Crum was the attorney for some of the so-called "Hollywood Ten" who were subpoenaed to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1949.Crum answered Paul Robeson in his "crusade call" and endorsed the American Crusade Against Lynching (ACAL) organization. The ACAL had been accused of socialist and communist motives; which led to the organization, including Crum, coming under close watch by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI tapped Crum's phones, opened his mail, and shadowed him constantly. Labeled as subversive, he ended up losing most of his clients and, unable to cope with stress from the harassment, committed suicide in 1959 by washing down an entire bottle of Seconal with whisky. His son, Bartley Crum, Jr., had committed suicide in 1953 by shooting himself with his grandfather's gun in his freshman year at Reed College. Crum's daughter, Patricia Bosworth, is a successful writer.