V-J Day Kiss Photo Nurse Edith Shain Dies at 91

Edith Shain, the nurse who kissed a sailor in Times Square and captured the hearts of millions in the famous V-Jay Day kiss photo, has died at the age of 91.

A retired kindergarten teacher, Edith Shain was working as a nurse in New York city on V-Jay Day on August 14, 1945 when the Japanese surrendered, ending World War II.  While in Times Square celebrating the end of the war, Ms. Shain was grabbed by an unknown soldier and kissed wildly in the middle of the crowd.

V-Jay Day Kiss Photo (Alfred Eisenstadt, Life magazine)
V-Jay Day Kiss Photo (Alfred Eisenstadt, Life magazine)

“Someone grabbed me and kissed me, and I let him because he fought for his country,” Ms. Shain later said. “I closed my eyes when I kissed him. I never saw him.”

The moment was captured in a famous photograph that became one of the most iconic images in U.S. history. The V-J Day kiss photo was taken by photojournalist Alfred Eisenstadt. The identity of the nurse in the photo was not known until many years later. The sailor in the photo was never identified.

Shain finally revealed herself as the nurse in the V-Jay Day kiss photo after Life magazine ran an article asking for information about the couple in the photo. “I was embarrassed,” Shain told NYU’s alumni magazine about why she waited so long to come forward. “I didn’t want people to know that a stranger had kissed me.”

Although Life magazine has never officially confirmed Shain was the nurse in the photo, photographer Alfred Eisenstadt, who died in 1995, believed she was indeed the woman he photographed.

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