The woman kissed by a sailor in an iconic photograph marking the end of World War Two has died aged 92. Greta Zimmer Friedman died of pneumonia at a hospital in Richmond, Virginia, her son Joshua Friedman said.
Ms Friedman was a 21-year-old dental assistant when she was grabbed and kissed by George Mendonsa in New York’s Times Square on 14 August 1945. The photo of that moment became one of the enduring images of the VJ Day celebrations in the US.
It was originally published as part of a round-up of celebration pictures in Life magazine. Ms Friedman herself said she was not even aware of the photo until the 1960s when she saw a book by the man who took the photo, renowned photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt.
‘Wasn’t much of a kiss’
There were a number of people who claimed to be the sailor and the nurse in the photo and it was not until the 1980s that they were confirmed to be Ms Friedman and Mr Mendonsa. Although the picture captures the pair in a tight embrace, they did not actually know each other.
Mr Mendonsa was actually at the time on a date with his future wife who can be seen smiling in some of the photos. “It wasn’t much of a kiss,” Ms Friedman recalled, in an interview with the Veterans’ History Project in 2005. “It was just somebody celebrating. It wasn’t a romantic event.”
Although the photo is lauded as a symbol of the joy felt by Americans on the day Japan surrendered to the United States, some people in recent times view the photo, as Time Magazine put it, “as little more than the documentation of a very public sexual assault”, according to reports.