The US sailor immortalised kissing a nurse amid jubilant celebrations at the end of the Second World War in New York’s Times Square has died just two days short of his 96th birthday.
George Mendonsa, who was captured in the iconic WWII image, fell and had a seizure at the assisted living facility in Middletown, Rhode Island, where he lived with his wife of 70 years, his daughter Sharon Molleur told The Providence Journal.
Mr Mendonsa was shown kissing Greta Zimmer Friedman, a dental assistant in a nurse’s uniform, on August 14, 1945.
The photo, taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt, was called V-J Day in Times Square but is known to most as The Kiss.
People had flocked to Times Square to celebrate the announcement of Japan’s surrender to the Allies, finally ending World War II.
Mr Mendonsa planted a kiss on Ms Friedman, whom he had never met.
The photo became one of the most famous photographs of the 20th century.
Speaking to the Veterans History Project in 2005, Ms Friedman said she “had no clue” who kissed her on V-J Day.
“I was grabbed by a sailor, and it wasn’t that much of a kiss, it was more of a jubilant act that he didn’t have to go back.
“And the reason he grabbed someone dressed like a nurse was that he just felt very grateful to nurses who took care of the wounded,” Ms Friedman said in her interview.
It was years before Mr Mendonsa and Ms Friedman were confirmed to be the couple.
While Mr Mendonsa maintained for 74 years that he was the sailor pictured in the photograph, it was only in 2012 that this was confirmed with the help of facial recognition technology which had ruled out other sailors who had made claims.
Mr Mendonsa served on a destroyer during the war and was on leave when the end of the war was announced.
He has said Ms Friedman reminded him of nurses on a hospital ship that he saw care for wounded sailors.
Ms Friedman fled Austria during the war as a 15-year-old girl.
She died in 2016 at the age of 92 at a hospital in Richmond, Virginia, from complications of old age.