From 1930-1968, the Motion Picture Production Code spelled out clearly what was acceptable conduct to be shown in Hollywood movies. When British-born actress Elizabeth Taylor (b. 1932) appeared as Maggie the Cat in the 1958 movie version of Tennessee Williams’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, the movie censors dogged the set.
“It’s hard to believe how strictly we were supervised in those days when it came to anything involving sex,” recalled Elizabeth. “It wasn’t just homosexuality that was concealed; heterosexual behavior was subject to almost as many restrictions.”
One day when she was on camera for a wardrobe test, an “inspector” showed up.
“When a BI (Bust Inspector, if you can believe it) appeared, he took one look at me and called for a stepladder. He climbed up, peered down, and announced that I needed a higher-cut dress, too much breast was exposed.”
To satisfy the BI, the costume designer Helen Rose pinned Elizabeth’s bodice with a brooch. But as soon as the BI left, that brooch came off and Elizabeth Taylor’s legendary cleavage was bared. (1)
(1) Kashner, Sam and Schoenberger, Nancy. Furious Love. New York: Harper Collins, 2010.