The sailor who was photographed kissing a nurse in Alfred Eisenstaedt’s iconic photo V-J Day in Times Square has died. George Mendonsa was 95.
Eisenstaedt was in New York City’s Times Square on August 14th, 1945, during victory celebrations that ensued after then-President Harry S. Truman declared the end of the United States’ war with Japan. The photographer spotted and photographed a US Navy sailor grabbing and kissing a stranger — a woman wearing a white dress.
Eisenstaedt wasn’t able to take down the names of his subjects, so after the photo became a defining image of that day, several people have come forward claiming to be the subjects.
In 1987, George Mendonsa came forward and filed a lawsuit against Time Inc., claiming that he was the sailor and that the magazine had violated his right of publicity by using his likeness without his permission. He dropped his lawsuit the following year, but a subsequent study by volunteers at the Naval War College in August 2005 confirmed Mendonsa’s claim by comparing his scars and tattoos with the sailor’s in the photo.
The woman has been identified as Greta Zimmer Friedman, who was a dental assistant at the time the photo was taken.
Mendonsa later said that he kissed Friedman because her outfit reminded him of the nurses on a hospital ship who had been caring for wounded sailors during World War II.
Friedman died in 2016 at the age of 92. Mendonsa died on Sunday, two days before his 96th birthday.