WORLD

The Nurse From This Iconic WWII Photo Has Died

"It was just somebody celebrating. It wasn't a romantic event.''

11/09/2016 8:44 AM AEST | Updated 11/09/2016 8:50 AM AEST
Reuters
U.S. Navy sailor Glenn Edward McDuffie (L) kisses a nurse in Times Square in an impromptu moment at the close of World War Two, after the surrender of Japan was announced in New York August 14, 1945. A man who claimed to the sailor seen in the iconic photograph kissing a nurse in New York's Times Square to mark the end of World War Two, has died in Texas at the age of 86, the Houston Chronicle reported on Friday. Glenn Edward McDuffie, who was 18 at the time of the famed "kiss" photo taken in August 1945, spent most of his post-war years in Houston and will be buried in a veteran's cemetery in Dallas, the paper quoted his family members as saying. Picture taken August 14, 1945. REUTERS/Victor Jorgensen/US Navy/Handout via Reuters (UNITED STATES - Tags: MILITARY MEDIA) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

NEW YORK — The woman who was kissed by an ecstatic sailor in Times Square celebrating the end of World War II has died at the age of 92.

Greta Zimmer Friedman's son says his mother died Thursday at a hospital in Richmond, Virginia. She died from complications of old age, he said.

Friedman was a 21-year-old dental assistant in a nurse's uniform on Aug. 14, 1945, known as V-J Day, the day the Japanese surrendered. People spilled out into the streets from restaurants, bars and movie theatres in New York City when they heard the news. That's when George Mendonsa spotted Friedman, spun her around and planted a kiss on her. The two had never met.

In fact, Mendonsa was on a date with an actual nurse, Rita Petry, who would later become his wife.

greta zimmer friedman

A sailor and nurse kiss in New York's Times Square on Aug. 14, 1945. Greta Zimmer Friedman, the nurse, died Thursday at the age of 92. (Victor Jorgensen, United States Navy/REUTERS)

The photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt is called "V-J Day in Times Square'' but is known to most the world over as simply, "The Kiss.'' Mendonsa says that in some photos of the scene, Petry could be seen smiling in the background.

The photo was first published in Life, buried deep within the magazine's pages. Over the years, the photo 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 until Mendonsa and Friedman were confirmed to be the couple.

Joshua Friedman says his mother recalled it all happening in an instant.

"It wasn't that much of a kiss,'' Friedman said in an interview with the Veterans History Project in 2005. "It was just somebody celebrating. It wasn't a romantic event.''

"It was just somebody celebrating."
— Greta Zimmer Friedman

The photograph has become one of the most famous photographs of the 20th century.

Both of Friedman's 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.'' Friedman, who had escaped Austria, got to the U.S. when she was 15.

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

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