Happy 100th birthday, Vanity Fair!

Farrah Fawcett, pictured on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine.
Bruce McBroom/MPTV; Courtesy of Conde Nast Archives

(CBS News) The magazine world marks a milestone this fall: The 100th anniversary of Vanity Fair.

Launched as "Dress and Vanity Fair" by publisher Conde Nast in late 1913, it became simply "Vanity Fair" early the next year.

"Photography right from the beginning was an essential element of what Vanity Fair was," said Graydon Carter, the current editor of the magazine -- and of a new centennial book.

"A lot of the portraits taken for Vanity Fair are the iconic portraits of that artist, or that businessman, or that writer," he said.

Among the images from the early decades, a portrait of actress Greta Garbo taken by photographer Edward Steichen:

Greta Garbo, photographed by Edward Steichen for the October 1929 issue of Vanity Fair. International Museum of Photography and Film,George Eastman House

"She shows up and she was complaining about just the terrible hair she had that day," Carter said. "And she pushes it back like this. And Steichen just says, 'Hold it like that,' and takes the picture. And that is THE iconic image of Greta Garbo."

Vanity Fair flourished during the Jazz Age of the '20s, but lost relevance during the Depression. It was merged into Vogue in 1936.

But after nearly 50 years as a footnote, the magazine was reborn in 1983.

"It was a perfect time," said Carter. "It was just the beginning of what I would like to call the Age of Money. The people with the money were more showy with the money, which is not great for society, but it's very good for journalists maybe, because it gives you something to write about."

AND take pictures of.

A new generation of Vanity Fair photographers created portraits of politicians, power brokers, movie stars, and celebrities of all sorts . . . clothing optional.

"Sex is a very important part of, like, getting magazines off the shelf and into your living room," said Carter. "And beautiful, attractive people are more pleasing on a coffee table over a 30-day period than not-so-beautiful people."

Not that it's all been glamour and gloss.

Graydon Carter points with pride to Vanity Fair's revelation of former FBI official Mark Felt as Watergate's mysterious "Deep Throat," as well as the magazine's coverage of 9/11, the war in Afghanistan, and the financial meltdown.

So much for the past. What of Vanity Fair's future?

"I expect it to be around 100 years from now, maybe in a slightly different form," said Carter. "It will probably be completely electronic, but it'll be around. As long as people like stories, a story-telling magazine like Vanity Fair'll be around."

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