Sunday 25 September 2016

Woman kissing sailor in VJ Day Times Square photo dies at 92

Published 11/09/2016 | 05:36

A sailor and a nurse kiss passionately in Manhattan's Times Square as New York City celebrates the end of the Second World War (US Navy/AP)
A sailor and a nurse kiss passionately in Manhattan's Times Square as New York City celebrates the end of the Second World War (US Navy/AP)

The woman pictured in a famous photo kissing an ecstatic sailor in Times Square while celebrating the end of the Second World War has died at the age of 92.

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Greta Zimmer Friedman, who fled Austria during the war as a 15-year-old, died at a hospital in Richmond, Virginia, from complications of old age, her son Joshua Friedman said.

Ms Friedman was a 21-year-old dental assistant in a nurse's uniform when she became part of one of the most famous photographs of the 20th century.

On August 14 1945 - known as VJ Day, the day Japan surrendered to the United States - people spilled into the New York City streets from restaurants, bars and cinemas, celebrating the news.

That is when George Mendonsa spotted Ms Friedman, spun her around and planted a kiss. The two had never met. In fact, Mr Mendonsa was on a date with a nurse, Rita Petry, who would later become his wife.

The photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt is called VJ Day in Times Square, but is known to most simply as The Kiss. Mr Mendonsa said that in some photos of the scene, Ms Petry could be seen smiling in the background.

The photo was first published in Life magazine, buried deep within its pages. Over the years, it gained recognition, and several people claimed to be the kissing couple. In an August 1980 issue of Life, 11 men and three women said they were the subjects. It was years before Mr Mendonsa and Ms Friedman were confirmed to be the couple.

Mr Friedman said his mother recalled the events happening in an instant.

Both of her parents died in the Holocaust, according to Lawrence Verria, co-author of The Kissing Sailor: The Mystery Behind The Photo That Ended World War II.

Ms Friedman will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, next to her late husband Misha Friedman.

AP

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