A former nurse who inadvertently became part of an iconic World War II photograph when she locked lips with a celebrating US sailor has died, her family confirmed last week.
Edith Shain, 92, passed away at her home in Los Angeles on Sunday, some 65 years after her passionate embrace with a serviceman celebrating the end of World War II became one of the most famous photos in history.
Shain was a nursing student in New York on Aug. 14, 1945, when radio networks announced the surrender of the Japanese.
She later recalled making her way to Times Square to join in celebrations, where she let a man in a Navy uniform gather her up in his arms before giving her a kiss. The moment was captured by photographer Alfred Eisenstadt and later appeared in Life magazine.
Eisenstadt later recalled the moment when he captured the kiss, saying he had spotted a sailor walking through the crowd kissing women at every opportunity.
“He was grabbing every female he could find and kissing them all — young girls and old ladies alike,” Eisenstadt said.
“Then I noticed the nurse, standing in that enormous crowd. I focused on her, and just as I’d hoped, the sailor came along, grabbed the nurse, and bent down to kiss her. Now if this girl hadn’t been a nurse, if she’d been dressed in dark clothes, I wouldn’t have had a picture.
“The contrast between her white dress and the sailor’s dark uniform gives the photograph its extra impact.”
For decades Shain kept her identity secret before contacting Eisenstadt in the late 1970s to reveal herself. The identity of the sailor has never been conclusively established.
Although other women had claimed to be the woman in the nurse’s dress over the years, Shain was recognized by Eisenstadt despite the passage of several decades. Shain later took part in parades in Manhattan to mark the 50th and 60th anniversaries of V-J Day.
Shain worked as a kindergarten teacher for 30 years and as a night shift nurse before retiring in Los Angeles.