Mystery sailor in famed VJ day kiss in New York's Times Square identified
By JACQUI GODDARD
It was an impromptu moment that gave rise to one of the 20th century's most iconic photographs.
As a jubilant US sailor heard that the Second World War had ended, he grabbed a passing nurse for a celebratory kiss that has since been seen by millions around the globe.
But for more than six decades, the identity of the amorous mariner caught spreading his favours in New York's Times Square on VJ Day has been a source of dispute, with at least ten men claiming that it was they who smooched nurse Edith Shain that day.
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Now one of the world's most respected forensic experts claims to have settled the debate following an investigation into Alfred Eisenstaedt's famed Life magazine cover shot, which was snapped as news came of the Japanese surrender on August 14, 1945.
The man behind the mystery, says Lois Gibson - a forensic artist with the Houston Police Department ? is Glenn McDuffie, an 80-year-old US Navy veteran who has fought for years to prove his claim and is now battling lung cancer.
"I couldn't be happier, this means everything to me. I thought I would die before I ever got anything done about it, that was my biggest fear," said Mr McDuffie, who will mark the 62nd anniversary of VJ Day on Tuesday with a salute to the US flag that flies outside his home in a Texas trailer park.
"People said I wasn't telling the truth, that I was a liar. But all these other guys who claim they're the sailor?well, get them to take a polygraph test. I've taken ten and I passed them all."
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Glenn McDuffie, left, has fought for years to prove he was the sailor who kissed Edith Shain, right, that day in New York
Carl Muscarello, 81, a retired policeman from Florida, is among those who still maintain that they are the smooching seafarer in the picture.
"My whole life has been dedicated to following the truth and I know for a fact I am the sailor. That lady in Houston who said it was McDuffie - that's just her opinion," he complained.
"Everybody had somebody in that war ? an uncle, a father, a friend ? and it was like New Year's Eve that August day when we heard it was over. If you were in uniform, it was likely that if you didn't kiss anybody, somebody would kiss you. So I didn't exactly hold back."
Mr Muscarello appears to have been accepted by Mrs Shain, based on his answers to questions such as where they went out to dinner that night and what he said to her after they kissed. "I told her we never went out to dinner and I didn't say anything, we just both faded back into the crowd," he explained.
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Edith Shain with Carl Muscarello - who also claims to be the sailor that kissed her 62 years ago
Mrs Shain is now 89 and has made a number of public appearances with Mr Muscarello in the past, including posing for a kiss with him in Times Square two years ago.
Mr McDuffie, however, complains that he has been spurned by her over the years and the only chance he has had to recreate the clinch was when he dressed up in a sailor's uniform and locked lips with a pillow for 100 new photographs taken as part of the investigation by Mrs Gibson, who in 2005 was named by the Guinness Book of Records as the world's most successful forensic artist due to her uncanny knack for helping Houston police to snare more than 1,000 criminals.
She compared the pictures using digital imaging techniques and precise measurements of his bone structure including his forehead, ears, wrists, knuckles and arms. "I am positive it's Glen?What I do is usually a matter of life or death, so I don't mess around when I identify someone," she said.
Mr Eisenstaedt was never able to confirm the identity of the sailor before he died in 1995, but did declare that he believed Mrs Shain to be the woman in his photograph.
A nurse at a New York hospital at the time, she had joined the euphoric throng that spilled into the streets as news that the war had ended crackled over the radio. Mr McDuffie, who was 18 years old and stationed in Brooklyn, claims that he had just emerged from a subway station on Times Square and had not heard the news.
"This lady said, 'Sailor, I'm so happy for you' and I said 'For what?'" he recalled.
"She said 'The war's over and you can go home.'?.well, I ran out in the street jumping and hollering. The lady turned around and held out her arms to me and I took her and kissed her."
He added: "I know Edith Shain was the woman I kissed because she had the biggest mouth of anybody I've ever kissed in my life ? it went from ear to ear. I'll never forget it."
Mrs Shain, who lives in Los Angeles, has not commented publicly on the latest findings.
"I spoke to her and told her I'd been positively identified," said Mr McDuffie. "She was kind of sarcastic, but she was curious enough to tell me to keep in touch."
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