Greta Zimmer Friedman the woman iconically kissed by a sailor in a defining photograph marking the end of World War Two has died aged 92. At the time the photograph was taken, Ms. Friedman, a 21-year-old dental assistant was grabbed and kissed by George Mendosa in New York’s Times Square on 14 August 1945. The photo became one of the most reproduced images of the VJ Day celebrations in the world. It became famous when it was published as part of a special issue dedicated to the celebration in Life magazine.
Ms. Friedman revealed in an interview that it ‘Wasn’t much of a kiss’ and although the picture captures the pair in a tight embrace, they did not actually know each other. She added, “~I wasn’t even aware of the photo until the 1960s when she saw a book by the man who took the photo”, the renowned photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt. in an interview with the Veterans’ History Project in 2005, she said, “It was just somebody celebrating. It wasn’t a romantic event.” Over the years 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. Mendosa.
Her grandson, Joshua Friedman said his mother never felt like she had done anything to deserve a spot in American history.
“The photo means a lot to so many people,” “My mother always felt like it wasn’t anything she did, it was something that happened to her.”
In a way, her exuberance was a reason for what happened: Friedman, who was a dental assistant but was thought over the years to be a nurse because of her uniform, had been at work when she heard rumors that the war was over.
She died of pneumonia at a hospital in Richmond, Virginia, her son Joshua Friedman said.
Photo: Alfred Eisenstaedt Creative Commons Jorgensen, Victor, Photographer (NARA record: 8467430) Department of Defense. Department of the Navy. Naval Photographic Center. New York City celebrating the surrender of Japan. They threw anything and kissed anybody in Times Square. General notes: Use War and Conflict Number 1358 Taken on 14 August 1945