The woman in the iconic World War II Times Square kissing photo recently passed away at the age of 92. Greta Friedman died from pneumonia in Virginia, according to History.com.
A sailor, now identified as George Mendonsa, spontaneously grabbed and smooched Friedman on that celebratory 1942 day. The war was over. Greta was a 21-year-old dental assistant on her lunch break at the time. The two had never met.
“It wasn’t that much of a kiss. It was more of a jubilant act,” Greta previously told the Veterans History Project. After the kiss, the two went on to live happily separate lives.
“I found out later he was so happy that he didn’t have to go back to the Pacific where they had already been through the war. The reason he grabbed somebody dressed like a nurse, was that he felt so very grateful to the nurses who took care of the wounded,” she continued.
The VJ Day (Victory in Japan Day) moment lives on forever, however, thanks to the now-famous black and white photo. Legendary photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt captured the moment, according to CNN. Life Magazine later published the image, which was titled “V-J Day in Times Square.”
Mendonsa confirmed that his kiss was spur of the moment, telling CNN: “it was just plain instinct, I guess.”
While the moment may have been more celebratory than romantic, it sure made for one heck of a photo. The couple’s identities remained unknown to the public for many years but this changed in 2012 when a book that included extensive research on the photo was published.
Greta is to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery next to her late husband. We send our condolences to the Friedman family during this time of loss.