WWII Times Square Kiss Photo Nurse Dies

In his book The Eye of Eisenstaedt, photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt writes about taking photographs during the chaos of V-J Day in Time Square:

“I was walking through the crowds on V-J Day, looking for pictures. I noticed a sailor coming my way. He was grabbing every female he could find and kissing them all — young girls and old ladies alike. Then I noticed the nurse, standing in that enormous crowd. I focused on her, and just as I’d hoped, the sailor came along, grabbed the nurse, and bent down to kiss her. Now if this girl hadn’t been a nurse, if she’d been dressed dark clothes, I wouldn’t have had a picture. The contrast between her white dress and the sailor’s dark uniform gives the photograph its extra impact.”

In the late 1970s,  a woman named Edith Shain wrote to Eisenstaedt claiming to be the nurse in his now iconic photograph. According to Shain, she was working at the Doctor’s Hospital in New York City when she and a friend heard on the radio that the war was over. The two women went to Time Square to celebrate and shortly after getting off the subway, Shain found herself receiving a kiss from a sailor.

On Tuesday June 22nd, Shain’s family announced that she had died at the age of 91. To this day, the identity of the sailor remains disputed, but in 2008 Shain said she wished she had got his number. “In retrospect, I should have said, ‘Hey, wait a minute!”

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About Michael Darling
Collector of the interesting and absurd.

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