Sailor in famous VJ day kiss photo dies aged 95

Picture on Times Square celebrated end of second World War

A sailor and a woman kissing in Times Square as people celebrate the end of second World War on August 14th, 1945, in New York. Photograph: Victor Jorgenson/US Navy via The New York Times

A sailor and a woman kissing in Times Square as people celebrate the end of second World War on August 14th, 1945, in New York. Photograph: Victor Jorgenson/US Navy via The New York Times

 

The ecstatic sailor shown kissing a woman in Times Square, New York celebrating the end of the second World War has died aged 95.

George Mendonsa fell and had a seizure at the assisted living facility in Middletown, Rhode Island, where he lived with his wife of 70 years, his daughter Sharon Molleur told The Providence Journal.

Mr Mendonsa was shown kissing Greta Zimmer Friedman, a dental assistant in a nurse’s uniform, on August 14 1945.

Known as VJ Day, it was the day Japan surrendered to the United States.

People spilled into the New York City streets to celebrate the news. Mr Mendonsa planted a kiss on Ms Friedman, whom he had never met.

The photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt was first published in Life magazine and became one of the most famous photographs of the 20th century.

It is called V-J Day In Times Square, but is known to most as The Kiss. Several people later claimed to be the kissing couple.

It was years before Mr Mendonsa and Ms Friedman were confirmed to be the couple.

On leave

Mr Mendonsa served on a destroyer during the war and was on leave when the end of the war was announced.

When he was honoured at the Rhode Island State House in 2015, Mr Mendonsa spoke about the kiss.

He said Ms Friedman reminded him of nurses on a hospital ship that he saw care for wounded sailors.

“I saw what those nurses did that day and now back in Times Square the war ends, a few drinks, so I grabbed the nurse,” Mr Mendonsa said, according to WPRI-TV.

Ms Friedman said in a 2005 interview with the Veterans History Project that it was not her choice to be kissed.

“The guy just came over and kissed or grabbed,” she told the Library of Congress.

She added: “It was just somebody really celebrating. But it wasn’t a romantic event.”

Mr Mendonsa died two days before his 96th birthday. Ms Friedman fled Austria during the war as a 15-year-old girl.

She died in 2016 at the age of 92 at a hospital in Richmond, Virginia, from complications of old age. – AP