New York, Sep 11 Greta Friedman, the woman kissed passionately by an American sailor in the iconic black and white picture taken in Times Square here after the World War II ended in 1945, has died.
Friedman, 92, died of pneumonia, her son, Joshua Friedman, said. Friedman had said she was grabbed and kissed by a sailor in a euphoric moment that made for one of the most defining American photos of the 20th century.
The black and white image of a woman and an American sailor was shot by the renowned photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt on August 14. 1945, after the news of Japan's surrender effectively heralded the end of World War II. The photograph ran as a full page in Life magazine shortly after.
Yet the identity of its subjects a dark-suited sailor and a woman in a white nurse's outfit captured in what seemed to be mid-embrace amid a celebration in Times Square on V-J Day has long been debated. At least 11 men have claimed to have been the sailor in the photo, while three women, including Friedman, had prominent claims that they were the nurse, the New York Times reported.
Friedman said that she did not see the photo until the 1960s, when she came upon a book of the Eisenstaedt's images and found the moment immortalised on the page. She wrote to Life and was told that another person had been identified as the woman in the photo. "I didn't believe that because I knew it happened to me," she said in 2005.
"It's exactly my figure, and what I wore, and my hairdo especially." "I felt that he was very strong. He was just holding me tight. I'm not sure about the kiss," Friedman had said. "It was just somebody celebrating. It wasn't a romantic event."
Eisenstaedt, a photojournalist who produced more than 2,500 picture stories and 90 covers for Life, did not have a definitive record of the man and woman in the photo. Decades later, he met with Edith Shain, a kindergarten teacher from Beverly Hills, California, who claimed to be the woman in the photo. Eisenstaedt died in 1995 while Shain died in 2010.
The photo has served as a symbol of the exuberance Americans felt at the end of World War II, capturing what many saw as a charmingly ideal portrait of the US at a portentous moment of history. It has been the subject of countless reproductions, re-enactments and tributes, the Times noted.
Friedman did not shy away from the photo or her role in it, her son said, adding that he said he believed she understood the argument that it was an assault but did not necessarily view it that way. Friedman was born Greta Zimmer on June 5, 1924, in Wiener Neustadt, a small town in Austria outside Vienna.
She was one of four daughters born to Max Zimmer, a clothing store owner, and Ida Zimmer. Friedman landed in New York City. She had been working at a dentists office on Aug. 14, which was why she was wearing the white nurse's outfit, she had said.