On September 8, 2016, Greta Friedman died of pneumonia. She was 92 years old.
Though some may not recognize Friedman by just her name, many will know her as the dental assistant said to have had a kiss stolen from her by a United States sailor during a V-J Day celebration in Times Square on August 14, 1945.
The photo gained national attention after it ran as a full page in Life magazine shortly after renowned photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt captured the kiss.
According The Boston Globe, Friedman had no idea the image existed until the 1960s, when she came upon a book of Eisentaedt’s work.
After seeing the black and white photo, Friedman contacted Life. However, the magazine told her that another woman had already come forward claiming to be the nurse who was kissed by the sailor (known as George Mendonsa).
In fact, since the picture was taken in 1945, three women — including Friedman — had come forward claiming to be the female subject.
The scene has not always been embraced as one of romance. Some critics have argued that it was instead a moment of sexual assault. Nevertheless, Friedman remained adamant that she was, in fact, the nurse surprised by the kiss:
“I didn’t believe that because I knew it happened to me,” she admitted in a 2005 interview archived by the Veterans History Project. “It’s exactly my figure, and what I wore, and my hairdo especially.
“I felt that he was very strong. He was just holding me tight. I’m not sure about the kiss. It was just somebody celebrating. It wasn’t a romantic event.”
Friedman also revealed that while she understands where the people claiming the kiss was an act of sexual assault were coming from, she didn’t necessarily view it that way.
The 92-year-old, pictured with Mendonsa on a float below, is survived by a son and daughter. Her son, Joshua, tells The Boston Globe that his mom never shied away from her role in the photograph.
Friedman was born in a small town outside of Vienna, Austria, before her parents sent her and her siblings off to other countries when conditions began to worsen for the Jews. Her parents passed away during the Holocaust.
As The Boston Globe reports, Friedman found herself in New York City where she started working at a dentist’s office and eventually earned an arts degree from Hood College.