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. 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.