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, Va. She died of old age, he said.
Mrs. 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 theaters in New York City when they heard the news. That's when George Mendonsa spotted Mrs. Friedman, spun her around and planted a kiss on her. They had never met.
In fact, Mendonsa was on a date with an actual nurse, Rita Petry, who would later become his wife.
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."
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 Mrs. Friedman were confirmed to be the couple.
"It wasn't that much of a kiss," Mrs. Friedman said in an interview with the Veterans History Project in 2005. "It was just somebody celebrating. It wasn't a romantic event."
The photograph has become one of the most famous photographs of the 20th century.
Both of Mrs. 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. She escaped Austria and got to the United States when she was 15.
Mendonsa, 93, is a retired fisherman living in Rhode Island.