Articles

Iconic World War II 'nurse' Greta Friedman dies at 92

The woman behind one of the most iconic photographs of World War II has died.


Greta Friedman, a woman dressed as a nurse pictured kissing a sailor in New York City as America announced its victory over Japan, passed away Sept. 1. She was 92.

It's one of the most famous photos of the 20th Century and shows a sailor who celebrates by hugging a nurse (actually a dental assistant, who just happened to be walking by) and giving her a long celebratory kiss.

Good thing a world-famous Life Magazine photographer happened to be standing there.

Photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt called the photo "V-J Day in Times Square" and captioned it "In New York's Times Square a white-clad girl clutches her purse and skirt as an uninhibited sailor plants his lips squarely on hers."

Friedman is widely believed to be the woman in the photo.

"I did not see him approaching, and before I know it I was in this tight grip," Friedman told CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller in 2012.

A U.S. Navy photojournalist happened to be standing there as well and took a photo of his own from a different angle. He called it "Kissing the War Goodbye."

Navy photographer Victor Jorgenson's photo.

Call it what you like, the photo came to be the symbol of American sentiment as World War II ended. It has since been replicated in American pop culture from The Simpsons to Katy Perry.

Lance Cpl. Thomas Smith seizes the opportunity to kiss singer, Katy Perry on stage during the opening night block party for Fleet Week New York. (Official Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jeffrey Drew)

The sailor is widely believed to be George Mendonsa, who was reunited with Friedman in Times Square by CBS News.

"The excitement of the war bein' over, plus I had a few drinks," Mendonsa said, "so when I saw the nurse I grabbed her, and I kissed her."

Then-Petty Officer 1st Class Mendosa is now 93 years old and lives in Rhode Island.

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