The World's Most Famous Kiss In Times Square NYC
Tuesday, September 1st, 2015 | Jo Ellen Gabel

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The story behind V-J Day in Times Square

“In New York's Times Square a white-clad girl clutches her purse and skirt as an uninhibited sailor plants his lips squarely on hers.” Image from Wikipedia

Nearly everyone in the world can recognize the famous V-J Day in Times Square photograph, done by photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt on August 14, 1945. It’s a revered American icon, one that represents the end of World War II and the celebration of Victory over Japan Day. But behind the memorable moment is a nearly 60 year mystery that kept the acclaim alive up to modern times.

It was August 14, 1945 and the world had just learned that the war with Japan was over, and that America had officially won the Second World War. Citizens everywhere took to the streets in celebration, and the day became one of jubilant chaos. It was in Times Square in New York City that photographer Albert Eisenstaedt sought to capture the day’s significance, knowing that it would be one that history remembered forever.

Walking the streets – swept up in the rampant emotions – Eisenstaedt spotted a particularly excited sailor bouncing about, planting exultant kisses on women as they passed him by. On a whim Eisenstaedt took the shot, and the world famous kiss between the sailor and the nurse was captured forever. Caught up in the moment though, the photographer had forgotten to get the names of the soon-to-be icons, so for years their identities remained a mystery.

Life magazine printed the picture in its issue that ran just after V-J Day, but not on the cover – it was buried within on page 27. Over the years the image was reprinted intermittently, but it wasn’t until editors claimed to have figured out who the famed nurse was – 35 years later – that the photo’s popularity really caught fire.

As it turns out though, Life had the wrong names for the nurse and sailor. So in an effort to find the true identities of the anonymous couple, Life brought in Richard Benson, a professor of photography at Yale University, to examine the image. Together with the Mitsubishi Electric Research Lab, who donated their services as a contribution to history in 1995, and forensic anthropologist Norman Sauer in 2009, it was concluded that George McDuffie and Greta Zimmer were the sailor and nurse from Eisenstaedt’s V-J Day in Times Square photograph.

But once the mystery of the legendary kiss had been solved, the true story behind it turned out to be much less quintessential than history had once thought. In fact, the reality of the whole thing was somewhat disappointing compared to its eminent reputation, mundane when compared to the world icon.

George McDuffie, the elated sailor, was on a first date with his future wife, Rita Petry, when the kiss took place in Times Square. The now long-time married couple had traveled to Midtown in order to see A Bell for Adano at Radio City Music Hall, but never saw the end of the film because midway the show stopped and an announcement came that the Japanese had surrendered. The two flew out of Radio City and celebrated at a nearby bar before wandering into the streets of Times Square.

It was here that he sought out a nurse – any nurse – wanting to show his deep appreciation after remembering how much they had done for him and his comrades in the war. That’s when he saw Greta Zimmer in her white uniform, the same one he recognized from the brave women that helped out overseas. But he was wrong.

Zimmer, an Austrian refugee that had fled to America just before the war started, was actually a dental assistant from Queens, who had walked to Times Square from her office nearby. She had been standing in the square only minutes when suddenly she was grabbed, and history was made. Just as abruptly as it had happened, the two of them parted ways and the national celebration went on separately, the kiss being nothing more than a mystery until its fame decades later.

The two figures went on to lead regular lives, each getting married – George to his date Rita, years later – neither thinking about the kiss until the image came out in Life in the 1980s, with incorrect names printed for the identities.

Part of what was so lasting about the image was its mysterious lore, but more than anything it came to represent the end of WWII, and a turn in American history. V-J Day in Times Square became the poster for U.S. Freedom, a figure for a country united through its triumph over hardship.

The kiss has since then been immortalized and recreated in popular culture, and will always remain a part of modern society regardless of its mystifying inception. It’s a symbol that reminds us that no matter what hardships our country faces, strength and love will always prevail in such a united nation. 


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Image from Wikipedia

Nearly everyone in the world can recognize the famous V-J Day in Times Square photograph, done by photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt on August 14, 1945. It’s a revered American icon, one that represents the end of World War II and the celebration of Victory over Japan Day. But behind the memorable moment is a nearly 60 year mystery that kept the acclaim alive up to modern times.

It was August 14, 1945 and the world had just learned that the war with Japan was over, and that America had officially won the Second World War. Citizens everywhere took to the streets in celebration, and the day became one of jubilant chaos. It was in Times Square in New York City that photographer Albert Eisenstaedt sought to capture the day’s significance, knowing that it would be one that history remembered forever.

Walking the streets – swept up in the rampant emotions – Eisenstaedt spotted a particularly excited sailor bouncing about, planting exultant kisses on women as they passed him by. On a whim Eisenstaedt took the shot, and the world famous kiss between the sailor and the nurse was captured forever. Caught up in the moment though, the photographer had forgotten to get the names of the soon-to-be icons, so for years their identities remained a mystery.

Life magazine printed the picture in its issue that ran just after V-J Day, but not on the cover – it was buried within on page 27. Over the years the image was reprinted intermittently, but it wasn’t until editors claimed to have figured out who the famed nurse was – 35 years later – that the photo’s popularity really caught fire.

As it turns out though, Life had the wrong names for the nurse and sailor. So in an effort to find the true identities of the anonymous couple, Life brought in Richard Benson, a professor of photography at Yale University, to examine the image. Together with the Mitsubishi Electric Research Lab, who donated their services as a contribution to history in 1995, and forensic anthropologist Norman Sauer in 2009, it was concluded that George McDuffie and Greta Zimmer were the sailor and nurse from Eisenstaedt’s V-J Day in Times Square photograph.

But once the mystery of the legendary kiss had been solved, the true story behind it turned out to be much less quintessential than history had once thought. In fact, the reality of the whole thing was somewhat disappointing compared to its eminent reputation, mundane when compared to the world icon.

George McDuffie, the elated sailor, was on a first date with his future wife, Rita Petry, when the kiss took place in Times Square. The now long-time married couple had traveled to Midtown in order to see A Bell for Adano at Radio City Music Hall, but never saw the end of the film because midway the show stopped and an announcement came that the Japanese had surrendered. The two flew out of Radio City and celebrated at a nearby bar before wandering into the streets of Times Square.

It was here that he sought out a nurse – any nurse – wanting to show his deep appreciation after remembering how much they had done for him and his comrades in the war. That’s when he saw Greta Zimmer in her white uniform, the same one he recognized from the brave women that helped out overseas. But he was wrong.

Zimmer, an Austrian refugee that had fled to America just before the war started, was actually a dental assistant from Queens, who had walked to Times Square from her office nearby. She had been standing in the square only minutes when suddenly she was grabbed, and history was made. Just as abruptly as it had happened, the two of them parted ways and the national celebration went on separately, the kiss being nothing more than a mystery until its fame decades later.

The two figures went on to lead regular lives, each getting married – George to his date Rita, years later – neither thinking about the kiss until the image came out in Life in the 1980s, with incorrect names printed for the identities.

Part of what was so lasting about the image was its mysterious lore, but more than anything it came to represent the end of WWII, and a turn in American history. V-J Day in Times Square became the poster for U.S. Freedom, a figure for a country united through its triumph over hardship.

The kiss has since then been immortalized and recreated in popular culture, and will always remain a part of modern society regardless of its mystifying inception. It’s a symbol that reminds us that no matter what hardships our country faces, strength and love will always prevail in such a united nation. 


' >

' >

 

The story behind V-J Day in Times Square

“In New York's Times Square a white-clad girl clutches her purse and skirt as an uninhibited sailor plants his lips squarely on hers.” Image from Wikipedia

Nearly everyone in the world can recognize the famous V-J Day in Times Square photograph, done by photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt on August 14, 1945. It’s a revered American icon, one that represents the end of World War II and the celebration of Victory over Japan Day. But behind the memorable moment is a nearly 60 year mystery that kept the acclaim alive up to modern times.

It was August 14, 1945 and the world had just learned that the war with Japan was over, and that America had officially won the Second World War. Citizens everywhere took to the streets in celebration, and the day became one of jubilant chaos. It was in Times Square in New York City that photographer Albert Eisenstaedt sought to capture the day’s significance, knowing that it would be one that history remembered forever.

Walking the streets – swept up in the rampant emotions – Eisenstaedt spotted a particularly excited sailor bouncing about, planting exultant kisses on women as they passed him by. On a whim Eisenstaedt took the shot, and the world famous kiss between the sailor and the nurse was captured forever. Caught up in the moment though, the photographer had forgotten to get the names of the soon-to-be icons, so for years their identities remained a mystery.

Life magazine printed the picture in its issue that ran just after V-J Day, but not on the cover – it was buried within on page 27. Over the years the image was reprinted intermittently, but it wasn’t until editors claimed to have figured out who the famed nurse was – 35 years later – that the photo’s popularity really caught fire.

As it turns out though, Life had the wrong names for the nurse and sailor. So in an effort to find the true identities of the anonymous couple, Life brought in Richard Benson, a professor of photography at Yale University, to examine the image. Together with the Mitsubishi Electric Research Lab, who donated their services as a contribution to history in 1995, and forensic anthropologist Norman Sauer in 2009, it was concluded that George McDuffie and Greta Zimmer were the sailor and nurse from Eisenstaedt’s V-J Day in Times Square photograph.

But once the mystery of the legendary kiss had been solved, the true story behind it turned out to be much less quintessential than history had once thought. In fact, the reality of the whole thing was somewhat disappointing compared to its eminent reputation, mundane when compared to the world icon.

George McDuffie, the elated sailor, was on a first date with his future wife, Rita Petry, when the kiss took place in Times Square. The now long-time married couple had traveled to Midtown in order to see A Bell for Adano at Radio City Music Hall, but never saw the end of the film because midway the show stopped and an announcement came that the Japanese had surrendered. The two flew out of Radio City and celebrated at a nearby bar before wandering into the streets of Times Square.

It was here that he sought out a nurse – any nurse – wanting to show his deep appreciation after remembering how much they had done for him and his comrades in the war. That’s when he saw Greta Zimmer in her white uniform, the same one he recognized from the brave women that helped out overseas. But he was wrong.

Zimmer, an Austrian refugee that had fled to America just before the war started, was actually a dental assistant from Queens, who had walked to Times Square from her office nearby. She had been standing in the square only minutes when suddenly she was grabbed, and history was made. Just as abruptly as it had happened, the two of them parted ways and the national celebration went on separately, the kiss being nothing more than a mystery until its fame decades later.

The two figures went on to lead regular lives, each getting married – George to his date Rita, years later – neither thinking about the kiss until the image came out in Life in the 1980s, with incorrect names printed for the identities.

Part of what was so lasting about the image was its mysterious lore, but more than anything it came to represent the end of WWII, and a turn in American history. V-J Day in Times Square became the poster for U.S. Freedom, a figure for a country united through its triumph over hardship.

The kiss has since then been immortalized and recreated in popular culture, and will always remain a part of modern society regardless of its mystifying inception. It’s a symbol that reminds us that no matter what hardships our country faces, strength and love will always prevail in such a united nation. 


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