If you’ve never heard of Glenn McDuffie then you almost certainly know him by having seen him in one of the most iconic photographs of the Second World War: the image of a man kissing a woman bent over backwards in New York’s Times Square, in celebration of the end of the war. McDuffie passed away at the age of 86 last week.
The iconic photograph remained controversial for many years because the man in the photo hadn’t been formally identified. But when McDuffie came forwards claiming to be that man, Houston Police Department forensic artist Lois Gibson took more than 100 photographs of him and positively matched the two identities up. As a result, McDuffie became famous the world over with women paying him $10 at a time to be kissed in the same location and have their photograph taken, to recreate the famous image.
Talking about his decision to kiss the woman that he had never met before, McDuffie said that he had been changing trains in New York when he heard the news that Japan had surrendered. “I was so happy. I ran out in the street and then I saw that nurse,’ he said. ‘She saw me hollering and with a big smile on my face. … I just went right to her and kissed her.” The two never spoke a word as McDuffie carried on with his day and went to visit his girlfriend.
His funeral will take place this Friday 21 March at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery.