Greta Friedman, the woman in white kissed by a sailor in New York’s Times Square in a photograph symbolising the end of the second world war, has died aged 92.
CBS News said she would be laid to rest with her late husband, Mischa Elliot Friedman, at Arlington national cemetery in Virginia.
Friedman, then a dental assistant on a break, was the woman in one of the most famous pictures of the 20th century, the moment Americans learned of the Japanese surrender on 14 August, 1945.
Photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt snapped a sailor in a dark uniform kissing Friedman with his arms around heras revellers in New York’s Times Square celebrated the victory over Japan, or V-J Day.
“I did not see him approaching, and before I know it I was in this vice grip,” Friedman told CBS News in 2012. After the embrace, Friedman and the sailor, quartermaster George Mendonsa of Rhode Island, went their separate ways. Eisenstaedt’s photo, “V-J Day in Times Square”, ran the following week in Life magazine.
The photographer recalled in his 1985 book Eisenstaedt on Eisenstaedt: A Self-Portrait that a sailor in Times Square was kissing women randomly. When he saw a flash of white, he took four shots in 10 seconds.
“If she [Friedman] had been dressed in a dark dress I would never have taken the picture. If the sailor had worn a white uniform, the same,” he said.
Mendonsa and Friedman were not identified until 1980 when Life asked the unknown pair to come forward. Mendonsa told CBS he and his future wife had been celebrating the end of the war when he began kissing women in the street.
In a 2005 interview with the Library of Congress Veterans History Project, the Austrian-born Friedman said she later designed dolls’ clothes, worked in summer theatre and became a book restorer.
She moved to Frederick, Maryland, and graduated from Hood College in 1981, the same year her son and daughter graduated from university.
Friedman said of the photo: “It was a wonderful coincidence, a man in a sailor’s uniform and a woman in a white dress … and a great photographer at the right time.”