August 22, 1929. Shot by Nickolas Murray. 

From UK's Independent (online), 1/28/08:

Next month sees an exhibition of 150 of Vanity Fair's defining images open at the National Portrait Gallery in London...Vanity Fair Portraits: Photographs 1913-2008 aims to show the diversity and breadth of the Vanity Fair portfolio...

Even the archive shots have a freshness and vigour in them that, decades later, still seems incredibly contemporaneous. Take the 1929 shot of actors Douglas Fairbanks Junior and Joan Crawford sitting back to back on the beach. Its breezy candour is miles ahead of its time.

"Douglas Fairbanks Junior was a columnist for the magazine, as was his father before him, and he and Joan Crawford were recently married," says exhibition curator and Manhattan-based Vanity Fair creative David Friend, of the shot. "They posed in a similar way to the way his father had in a photograph at a beach in Malibu. The photographer, Nickolas Muray, was a fencer with Fairbanks Senior and Junior became friends with him. So, it was him and his new bride. It's pretty rare to see a picture that feels so fresh: it feels almost like a 35mm photograph. At that time you would often see a square or vertical picture, but this has a really modern feel to it. Even though it is clear the photographer has set it up it's too perfect not have been massaged there is a spirit in the picture that feels more relaxed."

The picture shows us a naturalism which has always been a Vanity Fair staple.

Joan Crawford Images: 1929