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Story Behind Nurse-Sailor Kissing Picture and Edith Shain

The Story Behind the Iconic World War II Victory Kiss

Edith Shain, the nurse who was famously kissed by a sailor in this iconic World War II victory photo, has died at age 91. Photojournalist Alfred Eisenstaedt snapped it in seconds, but the chaos in Times Square on Aug. 14, 1945 made it impossible for him to get his subjects' names.

Lots of women claimed to be her, but Eisenstaedt believed Edith Shain. She immediately knew it was her when the photo printed the following week in Life magazine; however, she didn't come forward for over 30 years, fearing it would be inappropriate. "Now that I'm 60," she wrote in a letter to Eisenstaedt in the late '70s, "it's fun to admit that I'm the nurse in your famous shot."

She came to enjoy her place in history, and visited Times Square several times to commemorate the day. She told Eisenstaedt she had just left the Doctors' Hospital that day to be a part of the celebration when the sailor, a stranger, grabbed her by the waist and kissed her. She wasn't surprised — "at that time in my life everyone was kissing me."

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The actual scene wasn't a surprise either, as men were kissing women everywhere. But this soldier, whose tattoo, scars, and girlfriend (in the background) confirm he's George Mendonsa, was particularly eager. Eisenstaedt recalled him running through the street kissing any woman in his path.

"Whether she was a grandmother, stout, thin, old, didn't make a difference," he wrote in Eisenstaedt on Eisenstaedt, "Suddenly, in a flash, I saw something white being grabbed. I turned around and clicked the moment the sailor kissed the nurse."

Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
TravelERRN TravelERRN 5 years
Great Kiss
TravelERRN TravelERRN 5 years
Recreated with my Love. ;-)
Moms Moms 7 years
Love this! What a fun woman — sad that she passed away.
genesisrocks genesisrocks 7 years
How cute and funny! His girlfriend in the background- LOL
beautiful-disaster beautiful-disaster 7 years
does anyone else think its weird that his girlfriend is in the background just watching her boyfriend kissing everyone?
French-Kiss French-Kiss 7 years
Quite romantic to me =)
postmodernsleaze postmodernsleaze 7 years
This is one of my favorite photographs of all time. I saw the two people on the news a couple years ago and heard them tell the story of it, that they didn't know eachother and never saw eachother again. The moment in the picture seems to passionate and like there's a huge love story behind it, but it was just two strangers in a passing second. So cute!
bisou002 bisou002 7 years
Whoops, computer got messed up. I meant to comment that that was an adorable thing to say!
bisou002 bisou002 7 years
"at that time in my life everyone was kissing me." <-- ADORABLE!
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