Greta Zimmer Friedman

V-J Day in Times Square, a photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt, was published in Life in 1945 with the caption, "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"[1]

Greta Zimmer Friedman (born Margarete Zimmer; June 5, 1924 – September 8, 2016) was an Austrian-born American who was photographed being grabbed and kissed by a stranger—a Navy sailor—on V-J Day 1945 by Life photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt.[2] Widely misattributed as being a photograph of a nurse, she was actually a dental assistant with a similar uniform.


She was born Margarete Zimmer on June 5, 1924 to a Jewish family in Wiener Neustadt, Austria.[3] She was known as "Grete", "Greta" and "Gretl", variously. At age 15, Zimmer emigrated from Nazi-controlled Austria in 1939 with her sisters. Their parents, Max and Ida, died in concentration camps during the Holocaust.[4]

Zimmer took classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and did some work in toy design and dolls' clothes as well as maintaining an interest in the theater while still doing her dental assistant work. On VJ Day, she was dressed in her uniform and was celebrating the end of World War II in Times Square when a stranger (later recognised as the sailor George Mendosa) in a sailor's uniform grabbed her and kissed her.[2][5]

"It wasn’t my choice to be kissed," Friedman stated in a 2005 interview with the Library of Congress.[6] "The guy just came over and grabbed!" she said, adding, "That man was very strong. I wasn’t kissing him. He was kissing me."[6][7] "I did not see him approaching, and before I know it I was in this tight grip," Friedman told CBS News in 2012.[8]

In 1956 she married Dr. Mischa Friedman and they moved to Frederick, Maryland. She attended Hood College, but did not graduate until 1981, the same year as her three children. Friedman worked for ten years at Hood College restoring books and studying watercolor painting.[9]


Friedman died at age 92 on September 8, 2016, in Richmond, Virginia. She is buried beside her husband, infantryman Mischa Elliott Friedman, at Arlington National Cemetery.[5]


  1. Kreps, Daniel. "Greta Friedman, Woman in Iconic Times Square Kiss Photo, Dead at 92". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2016-09-15.
  2. 1 2 "Greta Zimmer Friedman dies; kissed sailor in World War II iconic photo". The Washington Times. September 11, 2016. Retrieved 2016-09-14.
  3. Rosenberg, Eli (September 10, 2016). "Greta Friedman, Who Claimed to Be the Nurse in a Famous V-J Day Photo, Dies at 92". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-09-12.
  4. Callahan, Maureen (June 17, 2012). "The true story behind the iconic V-J Day sailor and 'nurse' smooch". New York Post. Retrieved 2016-09-15.
  5. 1 2 Chuck, Elizabeth; Calabrese, Erin (September 10, 2016). "Greta Zimmer Friedman, 'Nurse' in Iconic WWII Kissing Photo, Dies at 92". NBC News. Retrieved 2016-09-12.
  6. Martino, Andy (September 2, 2016). "How a celebrated image marking V-J Day in Times Square has taken on a sinister shade". New York Daily News. Retrieved September 12, 2016.
  7. "Woman in V-J Day photo dead at 92". CBS News. September 10, 2016. Retrieved September 10, 2016.
  8. "Interview Transcript: Greta Zimmer Friedman: Veterans History Project (Library of Congress". August 23, 2005. Retrieved 2016-09-15.

Further reading

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