Published April 1, 1931
Tallulah Bankhead became a household name in 1924 when she played the waitress Amy in Sydney Howard's play They Knew What They Wanted, in London which went on to win the Pulitzer Prize. Many thought that Bankhead represented the ideal of the 1920s woman—beautiful, independent, and outrageous. Though Bankhead went on to a successful film career, she continued to appear onstage as well, garnering praise for her roles in The Little Foxes and The Skin of Our Teeth, among dozens of other productions. This photograph, by noted portrait photographer Cecil Beaton, is an outtake from an April 1931 feature in Vanity Fair magazine.
(British, 1904-1980) Born in Hempstead to a society family. He acquired his first camera, a Kodak folding model, at age eleven and began taking photographs of his family and friends. He also showed a talent for illustration at an early age. Before the age of twenty, Beaton had already been published in Vogue. In 1927, Mr. Condé Nast hired Beaton as a staff photographer and illustrator, a position he would hold well into the 1960s. His work quickly began to dominate the pages of Vogue and Vanity Fair and he gained notoriety for his style - a perfect combination of whimsy, glamour, and modernism. At the outbreak of World War II Beaton signed on with the British Ministry of Information as an official war photographer. His photos of persons affected by war traumas as well as wartime artists and musicians are some of the most celebrated images from the conflict. After the war, Beaton turned back to celebrity portraiture but also began a new career as a set and costume designer. His worked on the productions of My Fair Lady and Gigi, earning an Academy Award for costume design for each. Beaton was knighted in 1972. His works have been exhibited numerous times and can be found in the holdings of institutions around the world. The National Portrait Gallery of London hung two major exhibitions of Beaton's work in 1968 and 2004.