Sailor caught in the iconic Times Square kiss after WW II, dies at 95

The iconic photograph of a sailor kissing a woman became an identifier of the commencement and celebration of the WW II ending. George Mendosa, the sailor passed away on Monday at 95.

Mendonsa was famously shown kissing Greta Zimmer Friedman, a dental assistant in a nurse’s uniform on August 14, 1945, also known as the VJ Day or victory over Japan when Japan surrendered to the US. People took to the streets of the New York city in celebration. Ironically Mendonsa spontaneously kissed Friedman, who he had never met. The kiss was caught by photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt and was first published in Life Magazine tilted ‘V-J Day in Times Square’ and now popularly known as ‘The Kiss.’

The photographer described how he caught the moment on camera as he watched the sailor running along the street and grabbing any girl in sight. He also added that if the girl would have been dressed in a dark shade rather than the crisp white, he would have never got the shot.

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It became one of the most iconic and famous images to be associated with the 20th century. Several people later claimed to be the kissing couple from the photograph and it was years before Mendonsa and Friedman were aware of the photograph and were identified. Mendonsa in an interview said that the kiss wasn’t planned, it was in the moment as everyone was celebrating and in the excitement of the war being over he just dipped her and planted a kiss on her.

Friedman said in a 2005 interview with the Veterans History Project that the guy had come out of nowhere and grabbed her. She added, “It was just somebody really celebrating. But it wasn’t a romantic event.”

Mendonsa died just two days before his 96th birthday. Friedman died in 2016 at the age of 92 at a hospital in Richmond, Virginia, from complications of old age.

 

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