The Hayes Code was a set of rules that were in place from 1934-1968. They regulated what could be said or shown on screen, and pregnancy was considered to be a taboo topic.
A baby bump can also affect a character’s storyline. It distracts viewers from the way they’re supposed to look or what they’re meant to be doing.
Both of these issues can make it difficult for filmmakers and showrunners when one of their actresses becomes pregnant. Writing it into the story is one solution, but the other strategy is to hide the baby bump completely.
Like and subscribe to Facts Verse for more on this common trope. Watch our video to learn about actresses who hid their pregnancy during major film and TV roles.
A Christmas Story is one of the most famous family Christmas films of all time, but during it’s production, something happened that threw a major curveball at the film’s production team. Tedde Moore became pregnant.
The filmmakers padded out her costumes in an attempt to match her growing belly. This did essentially hide her pregnancy, but it also had the unfortunate side effect of making her appear fat.
All My Children was one of the longest-running soap operas of all time. It ran into a bit of trouble when Sydney got pregnant.
They decided to hide the pregnancy of the actress with tight shots of her face so that her belly wouldn’t be visible. The scene where she and her co-star Justin Bruening argue over whether or not to have a baby becomes even more ironic when you consider that she was 8 ½ months pregnant at the time.
Jane was pregnant during the filming of the action movie The Big Steal. Her co-star William Bendix saw her taking pills for morning sickness. She said they were meant to treat “Montezuma’s Revenge.” He took a few and thanked her later that he didn’t get sick.
The film had already been difficult enough to film after it was interrupted by Robert Mitchum’s jail time for marijuana possession. You’ll notice the difference in weight between him and Jane in the last shot.
Veronica was 6-8 months pregnant during the filming of Sullivan’s Travels. Only 2 other members of the cast and crew knew; Preston Sturge’s wife Louise and Edith Head, one of the most famous designers of the time. She didn’t want to lose the role, but playing a hobo made it easy to wear loose and baggy clothes for the actress to hide her pregnancy.
Shirley was pregnant out of wedlock during the filming of The Music Man and didn’t want it to be obvious. Only the costume designers knew at first. They attempted to adjust her dresses several times to keep it a secret. but it eventually got out.
Shirley’s baby bump is visible in a few scenes. She even says that while she was filming with her co-star Robert Preston in a scene on a footbridge, the baby kicked him.
This is one rare case of an actress concealing a pregnancy more than once.
Lucy was in the early stages during the filming of the 1951 film The Magic Carpet and had to have her dresses let out multiple times. She kept Columbia executives from finding out to make sure she didn’t lose the role.
She was 6 months pregnant with Lucie Arnez while filming the pilot for I Love Lucy. Her costumes were oversized but, since the show wasn’t created for TV broadcast, she only had a problem with the professor’s routine. It had to be reworked so she wouldn’t have to flop on her belly.
Lucy refused to hide a pregnancy a 3rd time while filming the Moral Guardians. The filmmakers considered it a taboo subject, but she didn’t care.
The I Love Lucy episode where she gave birth broke Nielson rating records. The word pregnant wasn’t allowed on TV, so the show invented the now popular euphemism “expecting.”
Linda and her co-star Richard Zanuck had an affair behind the scenes of filming the 1968 film Planet of the Apes. Pregnancy and birth onscreen were already considered taboo and unheard of out of wedlock. Careful posing during every shot kept her baby bump hidden.
Rhea Pearlman and Shelley Long
Two actresses on the set of Cheers got pregnant around the same time. Rhea’s was written into the script after her character Carla had a fling with Dr. Bennet Ludlow. Shelley’s bump was hidden by having her hide behind the bar and filmed from the neck up.
Objects around the Cosby house such as giant teddy bears were used to hide Phylicia’s growing belly.
The showrunners also took other measures to conceal her pregnancy. Their methods included writing her out of episodes and cutting a hole in the Huxtables’ bed so her baby bump wouldn’t be elevated and noticeable. Bill Cosby even once jokingly said that if she’d gotten any bigger, the only solution would have been to park the family car in the living room.
Like and subscribe to Facts Verse for more memorable ways that real-life events were worked into your favorite stories. Keep watching to learn about more films and TV shows that were notable either for attempting to hide a pregnancy or willingly choosing to let a baby bump show as a method of subverting expectations.
This is one of the best examples of playing with the idea of hiding a pregnancy in TV or film.
Day by Day aired from February 29, 1988-June 25, 1989. 6 original Brady Bunch cast members appeared on A Very Brady Episode which aired on February 11, 1989. They included Robert Reed, Florence Henderson, Ann B. Davis, Maureen McCormick, Christopher Knight, and Mike Lookinland.
Maureen was pregnant at the time of the reunion special, but it was worked into the episodes already strange plot.
The episode begins with the main character Ross watching The Brady Bunch and singing along to the theme song. He says that The Brady Bunch is a way of life but can’t help him with the F he got on his recent history paper because he was too busy watching it. His parents forbid him from watching any more TV, and he says that Mike and Carol Brady wouldn’t have scolded their children for a bad grade.
After that Ross falls asleep and has a dream that mirrors a Brady Bunch episode. It’s full of references to other episodes of the show.
Eventually, Marcia, played by Maureen McCormick, enters. She has a visible baby bump, but the typical trope of hidden pregnancies is subverted as no one comments on it for the rest of the episode. They simply behave as if it’s a normal event and don’t ask how it happened or attempt to hide it.
Ross eventually wakes up, sees his parents behaving like the ones from The Brady Bunch, then wakes up one more time after realizing it was another dream. He goes to get some real sleep while his parents watch The Brady Bunch themselves. The whole episode was a parody of the Hide Your Pregnancy trope.
This was one of the most controversial examples of an actress hiding a pregnancy in the history of TV. Jane’s pregnancy was written into the later seasons of Frasier, but many fans weren’t impressed with the way it was handled.
The showrunners explained her character’s growing stomach as the result of a struggle with compulsive eating. Jane even had to wear a fat suit to make it convincing.
When Jane left the series to have her baby, the characters explained that she went to a weight loss spa. They even specified that she’d lost 9 pounds 12 ounces.
Many media outlets and viewers were outraged, but others felt it was an effective way to add realism to Niles and Daphne’s relationship. Jane thought it was fine but struggled to wear the suit every day.
I Dream of Jeannie ran for 5 seasons from 1965-1970. It was popular in its time and did well in syndication.
The role of Jeannie was tied up with an iconic pink and red silk costume with an exposed midriff. This may seem like it would make it impossible to conceal a pregnancy, but the studio did its best.
Extra veils were added to the costume for the first 10 episodes to cover Barbara’s stomach. She jokingly said it made her look like a walking tent.
This is another instance of the same actress hiding a pregnancy twice.
Katey first got pregnant in season 6 but unfortunately miscarried. They kept the pregnancy in the storyline for half a season but then wrote it off as a dream.
Katey got pregnant again in seasons 9 and 10. The 2-part special She’s Having My Baby saw both Marcy and Peg become pregnant. They were the highest-ranked episodes of the series with and #2 for their premiere week overall with almost 30 million viewers
Julia joined the cast of Newhart playing Stephanie Vanderkellen during its 2nd season in 1983. It was one of her most famous roles and also her most awarded.
She earned her 6 consecutive nominations for Oustanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series from 1984-1990, as well as several other accolades. This was although she was forced to do everything she could to hide her pregnancy during several episodes. This included carrying around pillows, wearing baggy clothes, and standing behind furniture.
Laurie Metcalfe and Roseanne Barr
Laurie became pregnant in 1995 during Season 6 of Roseanne. The showrunner used every trick in the book to hide it, from loose clothing to furniture. There was even a scene where her character sat in the bathtub covered in a heavy quilt smoking pot with her family. The baby bump eventually became too large to hide and had to be written into the show.
Roseanne Barr also became pregnant 3 months later during the show’s 7th season. Her character announced it on the show and stayed pregnant for over a year.
Have you ever noticed a moment where a TV show or movie attempted to hide an actress’s baby bump? Let us know in the comments below. Like and subscribe to FactsVerse for more on the pregnancy experiences of the biggest names in Hollywood.