Before Joan Crawford was a big-screen superstar, she was what most girls new to Hollywood were in those days – hungry for parts. During her teenage years, she allegedly appeared in a pornographic film titled Velvet Lips.
When Crawford became an MGM star, the studio supposedly sent out its notorious fixer, Eddie Mannix (who was alternatively listed as MGM general manager or comptroller over the years) to find, acquire, and destroy the negatives of Velvet Lips.
There are two versions of the story as to how Mannix managed the job. One says that he simply paid $100,000 for the negatives and destroyed them, while also tracking down and destroying all prints of the film. The second, and more enjoyable story, is that he partnered with the mob to negotiate the purchase of the negatives, who talked the holders down to $25,000 by offering them the option of simply being shot down instead.
Whichever version of the story is real, Crawford’s FBI file says that the film did exist, citing a “high police authority.”
When Crawford left MGM in 1943, she wrote the studio a personal check for $50,000, an amount that many believe was a reimbursement of the studio’s expenses incurred in destroying Velvet Lips.