An Iconic Image, a Remarkable Woman: Nurse in Famous WWII Kiss Photo Has Died [VIDEO]

An Iconic Image, a Remarkable Woman: Nurse in Famous WWII Kiss Photo Has Died [VIDEO]

An Iconic Image, a Remarkable Woman: Nurse in Famous WWII Kiss Photo Has Died [VIDEO]

She was an enigma for decades. At first her face was not identified, yet she was a subject in one of history’s most iconic photos.

The picture was taken in August of 1945, and the place was Times Square in New York City. In an era when cell phones and the internet were the stuff of science fiction, word managed to spread throughout the city that the Japanese had surrendered, and that World War II — the greatest conflagration ever endured — was ended.

New Yorkers flocked into the streets in wild celebration. Life magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt was among the throngs of people, taking pictures. And then he snapped this image. He entitled it simply, “V-J Day in Times Square.”


It took decades to discover the identity of the sailor and the young woman he kissed, since Eisenstaedt never asked their names. Finally, in 2012, a historian and author determined the pair were George Mendonsa and Greta Zimmer Friedman.

On Saturday, the sad news was announced that Greta Friedman had passed away at the age of 92.

Greta Zimmer Friedman, apart from the famous photo, lived a remarkable life. An Austrian Jew, she fled her native country in 1938 with her two younger sisters as Hitler and the Nazis took over. Their parents planned to follow their daughters to America. They never made it. Even today, no one in the family is quite sure of their fate.

Greta Zimmer’s 1938 passport.

Once settled in New York City, the young Greta Zimmer became involved in that city’s theater community, and studied costuming at the New School’s Dramatic Workshop, where she met actors Harry Belafonte and Rod Steiger. But on that August morning in 1945, Greta was working as a dental assistant when she made her way to Times Square to determine if the rumors of the war’s end were true.

That’s when she was grabbed by George Mendonsa, a young sailor on leave who had been celebrating the war’s end. “The excitement of the war being over, plus I had a few drinks, so when I saw the nurse I grabbed her, and I kissed her,” Mendonsa reported to CBS in 2012. It was a quick embrace, a quick kiss, and the pair moved on.

But the encounter was forever immortalized through the camera lens of Eisenstaedt.

Greta Zimmer and George Mendonsa.

Greta Zimmer went on to marry a doctor, Mischa Friedman, in 1956, and moved to Maryland. They raised a son and a daughter. George Mendonsa married the woman who accompanied him into Times Square, Rita Petry, who ironically appears in the famous photo. Her face can be seen over George’s right shoulder.

Greta Zimmer Friedman and George Mendonsa eventually reunited in Times Square, but did not re-enact their famous kiss.


Joshua Friedman, Greta Friedman’s son, reported that his mother had been ill and passed away from pneumonia in Richmond, VA. She will be buried in Arlington Cemetery next to her husband Mischa, who died in 1998. George Mendonsa, now 93, is reported to be living as a retired fisherman in Rhode Island.

Another member of an extraordinary generation of Americans has left us. May you rest in peace, Greta Friedman.

Written by

Kim is a pint-sized patriot who packs some big contradictions. She is a Baby Boomer who never became a hippie, an active Republican who first registered as a Democrat (okay, it was to help a sorority sister's father in his run for sheriff), and a devout Lutheran who practices yoga. Growing up in small-town Indiana, now living in the Kansas City metro, Kim is a conservative Midwestern gal whose heart is also in the Seattle area, where her eldest daughter, son-in-law, and grandson live. Kim is a working speech pathologist who left school system employment behind to subcontract to an agency, and has never looked back. She describes her conservatism as falling in the mold of Russell Kirk's Ten Conservative Principles. Don't know what they are? Google them!


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