Crum was a confidant of William Randolph Hearst and the 1940 U.S. Presidential candidate Wendell Willkie. A Roman Catholic, Crum was a member of the Anglo-American Commission of Inquiry on Palestine in 1945 that advised President Harry Truman to support the opening of the British Mandate of Palestine to unrestricted Jewish immigration, and to allow the creation of a Jewish state. His book, Behind the Silken Curtain a Personal Account of Anglo-American Diplomacy in Palestine and the Middle East was published by Simon & Schuster in 1947. He was publisher of the New York Star newspaper until its closure in January 1947.
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.
- Swindall, Lindsey R. Paul Robeson: A Life of Activism and Art. Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc. pp. 113–114.
- Bosworth, Patricia (April 20, 1997). "Hollywood Blacklist, per the Daughter of Bartley Crum". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-02-11.
- Fitzgerald, Brian (March 30, 2001). "Life without father". Office of University Relations. Vol. IV No. 28 (B.U. Bridge). Retrieved 2008-02-11.
- Kakutani, Michiko (13 May 1997). "Finding Out Who the Man Called Daddy Was". The New York Times. p. 16. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
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