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Kissing Sailor Photograph Couple Identified As George Mendonsa and Greta Zimmer Friedman According To New Book (VIDEO)

Posted: 05/ 2/2012 11:54 am Updated: 05/ 3/2012 2:10 pm

Alfred Eisenstaedt's "Kissing Sailor" photograph has become an icon of American culture, a celebration of the excitement at the end of World War II - yet the identities of the smooching couple have never been proven.

However, a new book, "The Kissing Sailor" by George Galdorisi and Lawrence Verria (Naval Institute Press, $23.95), published on May 15th claims to confirm the names of the world-famous couple who kissed in Times Square on August 14th, 1945 (VJ Day). And both are still alive.

10news.com quotes co-author Galdorisi as saying: "We've proven this basically three different ways -- through forensic analysis, through photographic interpretation and through some other technical means that these are the people."

The book claims that the pair are George Mendonsa and Greta Zimmer Friedman, both now 89 years old. Mendonsa lives in Rhode Island, and Friedman lives in Maryland.

According to the authors, Mendonsa's girlfriend at the time, who later became his wife, is also in the photograph, standing in the background.

This isn't the first time the claim has been made. The Veterans History Project from the Library of Congress interviewed Friedman about the kiss in 2005. "It wasn't my choice to be kissed," she said then. "The guy just came over and grabbed!"

They were photographed together back in Times Square in 1980, for a LIFE magazine article that examined the claims of different couples, though Friedman refused to re-enact the pose.

However, she isn't the only claimant to the title. In 2010, Edith Shain, who also said that the image was of her, died aged 91.

"When you whittle it down to people with a pretty legitimate claim, there's probably four or five candidates for the sailor and about three for the nurse," said co-author Galdorisi, who stands by the evidence presented in his book.

The facts surrounding the kiss, as well as the photographer himself, are perhaps more incredible than the kiss itself. According to the book's description, "The nurse, an Austrian Jew who lost her mother and father in the Holocaust, barely managed to escape to the United States. Eisenstaedt, a World War I German soldier, was nearly killed at Flanders."

CORRECTION: The final paragraph has been altered to make it clear that it was the photographer, not the sailor, who was nearly killed at Flanders.

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Filed by Andrew Losowsky  |