Sunday, September 13, 2009

WWII photographs of "The Kiss"

The 2nd photo is surely familiar to you, but the 1st may not be. Both were taken by German-American photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt (1898-1995), known for his candid shots. He is most famous for the 2nd image, titled "V-J Day in Times Square" and captured on August 14, 1945, as President Harry Truman (1884-1972) announced the end of the war with Japan. But Eisenstaedt bracketed World War II with the photograph at the top of a couple sharing a farewell kiss in Penn Station before the soldier shipped out. Each of the photos appeared in Life magazine and the spontaneity precluded asking the identities of the subjects. Though she has had rivals, the nurse in the V-J Day photo is accepted to be Edith Shain, who served as Grand Marshal in last year's Veteran's Day parade in New York City. When Life asked in its August 1980 issue that the sailor identify himself, claims were made by 11 men. Since then, 2 additional men - Carl Muscarello and Glenn McDuffie - have come forward, and a forensic analysis by the Houston Police Department concludes that McDuffie is the man in the famous photograph. The photo, incidentally, has been brought into the 3rd dimension in the form of two identical 25' statues, one in San Diego, California, and the other in Sarasota, Florida. Described as gaudy monstrosities, the full-color statues have themselves been the subject of recent dispute, while the controversy about the subjects in the iconic black and white photo seems to have finally been resolved.

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