Edith Shain

Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt, taken on V-J Day, 1945 (from Life Magazine).

Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt, taken on V-J Day, 1945 (from Life Magazine).

Edith Shain was born in Tarrytown, New York on July 29, 1918. She later attended the New York University nursing program and worked as a psychiatric nurse at Doctor’s Hospital in New York City. Upon learning that World War II had ended, on August 14, 1945, she went to Times Square with a friend to celebrate. While there, she was spontaneously kissed by an unknown sailor while exiting the subway and the kiss was photographed by LIFE Magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstadt. The photograph became one of the most famous and memorable images of the 20th century and Shain became somewhat of a celebrity as a result of her appearance in the photograph.

Her son Michael Shain described the photo as having captured “an epic moment in American history, one that inspired patriotism, unity, joy and a spontaneous national pride in victoriously ending the war.”  [1]

More than a dozen men claimed to have been the one to kiss her but LIFE Magazine was unable to determine the identity of the sailor in the photograph.

She died on June 20, 2010 at her home in Los Angeles, California.

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