NEW YORK - AUGUST 11: Eighty six-year-old Edith Shain stands in Times Square beside a statue of her famous kiss with a sailor on V-J Day at the end of World War II August 11, 2005 in New York City. The famous kiss was photographed by Alfred Eisenstaedt and the unveiling of the statue coincides with the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II on August 14, 1945. The sailor in the photograph has never been positively identified. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
The woman depicted in an iconic photograph kissing a zealous American sailor in a 1945 Times Square photo died Sunday at age 91.
The photograph, which shows a lip-locked nurse Edith Shain and an unknown sailor, was taken in Times Square on August 14 after President Truman announced victory in the Pacific and people began to gather in the streets to celebrate. Shain had been working at Doctor's Hospital in New York City but ran out into the street with a friend when they heard the announcement that the war was over.
Photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt captured the shot, which was first published in Life Magazine a week later. The nurse's identity was unknown until the 1970s, when Shain wrote to Eisenstaedt that she was the woman in the photograph.
In his autobiography "The Eye of Eisenstaedt," the photographer writes: "I was walking through the crowds on V-J Day, looking for pictures. I noticed a sailor coming my way. He was grabbing every female he could find and kissing them all — young girls and old ladies alike. Then I noticed the nurse, standing in that enormous crowd. I focused on her, and just as I'd hoped, the sailor came along, grabbed the nurse, and bent down to kiss her."
Life Magazine acknowledged Shain as the woman in the now famous picture, and since then she has become a WWII icon herself. Shain was frequently invited to memorials, wreath-layings and parades.
"My mom was always willing take on new challenges and caring for the World War II veterans energized her to take another chance to make a difference," her son Justin Decker said in a statement, MSNBC reports.
"Now if this girl hadn't been a nurse, if she'd been dressed in dark clothes, I wouldn't have had a picture," wrote Eisenstaedt. "The contrast between her white dress and the sailor's dark uniform gives the photograph its extra impact."
Shain died at her Los Angeles home on Sunday. She leaves behind three sons, six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.