Alfred Eisenstaedt (December 6, 1898 – August 24, 1995) was a German American
photographer and photojournalist. He is renowned for his candid photographs,
frequently made using a 35mm Leica M3 rangefinder camera. He is best known for his
photograph capturing the celebration of V-J Day.
Eisenstaedt was born into a Jewish family in Dirschau (Tczew) in West Prussia,
Imperial Germany. His family moved to Berlin in 1906. Eisenstaedt served in the
German Army's artillery during World War I, being wounded on April 9, 1918. While
working as a belt and button salesmen in 1920s Weimar Germany, Eisenstaedt began
taking photographs as a freelancer for the Berliner Tageblatt.
Eisenstaedt was successful enough to become a full-time photographer in 1929. Four
years later he photographed a meeting between Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini in
Italy. Other notable pictures taken by Eisenstaedt in his early career include a waiter ice
skating in St. Moritz in 1932 and Joseph Goebbels at the League of Nations in Geneva
in 1933. Although initially friendly, Goebbels scowled for the photograph when he
learned that Eisenstaedt was Jewish.
Because of oppression in Hitler's Nazi Germany, Eisenstaedt emigrated to the United
States in 1935, where he lived in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York, for the rest of
his life. He worked as a photographer for Life magazine from 1936 to 1972. His photos
of news events and celebrities, such as Dagmar, Sophia Loren and Ernest Hemingway,
appeared on 90 Life covers. Read more...
For a more extensive biography of Eisenstadt, see
|1. Who took the picture?
2. What is the sailor's real name?
3. How do we know for sure?
|If you have a picture you'd like us to feature a picture in a future quiz, please
email it to us at CFitzp@aol.com. If we use it, you will receive a free analysis of
your picture. You will also receive a free Forensic Genealogy CD or a 10%
discount towards the purchase of the Forensic Genealogy book.
|1. Alfred Eisenstadt
2. There is some controversy,
but the leading contender is Glen McDuffie from Houson, TX
3. Extensive forensic analysis has been done to compare McDuffie's body
dimensions to those of the sailor in the photograph, with excellent results.
McDuffie is also the only candidate who has passed a series of lie detector tests,
and who can name the other sailors in the photograph.
|Answer to Quiz #193 - 18 January 2009
|If you enjoy our quizzes, don't forget to order our books!
|This quiz was inspired by a suggestion from Beth Tafel.
|Congratulations to Our Winners
Mr. Rick and Jina do it again! Long live Mr. Rick and his Quiz Angels!
Beth Long Marjorie Wilser
Lexie Condit Eileen O'Duill
Dennis Brann Robin Depietro
Carolyn Cornelius Tamura Jones
Debbie Sterbinsky Venita Wilson
Charlie Wayne Don Draper
Mike Dalton Deborah Campisano
Tina Kowis Milene Rawlinson
Barbara Battles Dave Doucette
Dolores Martin Carl Blessing
Jocelyn Thayer Brian Kemp
Betty Chambers Mike Swierczewski
Judy Pfaff Diane Burkett
Karen Kay Bunting Lisa Thaler
Gary Sterne Maureen O'Connor
Angie McLaughlin Edee Scott
Bill Hurley Harold Clupper
Marilyn Hamill Douglas G. Smith
Joshua Kreitzer Eric Goforth
Margaret Waterman Mary South
Carol Lemieux Ted McChesney
Jim Kiser Footnotemaven
Beverly Johns Stan Read
Wayne Douglas Norm Smith Dawn Colket
Sharon Martin Robert E. McKenna, QPL
|Comments from Our Readers
I [took] a close look at the Lois Gibson material. But I was unable to find the actual
material from the Naval War College team which was based on the Mitsubishi Lab
study and the analysis by Professor Benson of Yale. I also was not able to get a good
look at the other frames shot by Eisenstaedt at the same time. This material supposedly
could discern a tattoo, scars, a benign cyst, and Medonca's quartermaster rating badge
in his jumper pocket. Hmm.
I think there is enough credibility in each case that one casts doubt on the other.
I also wondered about the "homer" aspects of these idents. NWC in Newport, RI
identified Mendonca, a resident of Newport. Gibson of the Houston police Department,
identified McDuffie, a resident of Houston.
I think this is a wonderful iconic photograph that captures a time and a place. It's fine
we don't know exactly who it is. Carolyn Cornelius
It's interesting that the Eisenstadt photo in Lois Gibson's site was taken about one
second after the quiz photo. Eisensenstadt must have advanced the film in his 35 mm
camera and shot the photo in the Gibson site. During this brief time, Jack Holmes on
the photo's left edge crossed his right leg over his left, and Bob Little in a white uniform
came into view. The "smackeroonie" continued uninterrupted! Stan Read
I have met Edith Shain-- she is over 90, and has attended our VJ/WWII memorial event
at History Park in San Jose twice. We (the Printers' Guild) have printed a keepsake of
the day with another view of the famous "kiss" photo; I made a point of talking to Mrs.
Shain [the nurse in the photo] and asking her to autograph the keepsake we printed.
She's a delightful lady and clearly enjoys participating in these events. We were honored
to have her there. Marjorie Wilser
My father took my sister and I to Canal Streeet in New Orleans on this day to be part
of the celebration. After a while he decided we were too young and took us home, for
scenes such as this were common there as well as at Times Square.
I think that part of the charm of the picture is that neither of the participants has ever
been conclusively identified. Eisenstaedt did not record their names and over the years
about 11 men and three women have claimed to be the people in the photograph. The
sailor is likely either Glenn McDuffie of Houston or George Mendonca of Newport, RI,
both of whom have claims supported by photo analysis experts. Life Magazine, who
owns the photo has never accepted any claim as conclusive. I looked at the material
and I have to say I agree with them. Carolyn Cornelius
Alas, Ms. Gibson’s claims will probably not settle the matter. In 1980, Life Magazine
counted 11 men — not including Mr. McDuffie — who said they were the sailor in the
photo. The men included a Rhode Island fisherman, a New Jersey history teacher and a
Harvard University refrigeration mechanic. Debbie Sterbinsky
Yeah forensic anaylsis! I know why you picked this quiz!! Barbara Battles
Interestingly enough, despite the evidence, there seems to be another claimant for the
kisser...one that Edith Shain (the nurse in the picture) has identified, Carl Muscarello.
But she may have spurned Glenn. But I'll stick with the expert's opinion.
It is probably the most famous photograph in the United States. Delores Martin
Can't argue with forensic analysis!!! :) Angie McLaughlin
By the way Rhode Island is the only state that still celebrates this holiday.
The sailor's name is Carl Muscarello--no it's not, it's George Mendonca--no it's not, it's
Glenn McDuffie--YES IT IS! What a picture and story. I would have never guessed
that that much fuss was made over proving who was in the picture. Thanks for the
great search! I look forward to the next one! Dawn Colket
WOW ! Wish I had known about forensics a long time ago. I think I would have
gone to college, got a degree and gone into it. Edee Scott
Very interesting. I know it wasnt my Dad, he was in the Army, darn would have bee
fun. Beverly Johns
This one is a keeper for certain; I remember this story now it was on one of those talk
shows and I caught the tail end of the story. Anna Farris
|An Eyewitness Account of VJ Day in Times Square
I know from personal experience about that famous day,
Happening to be in that celebrating crowd on Times Square.
Being transfered from the European Theater of action,
to the Pacific Theatre, training for Amphibious Landing fare.
There was a lot of hugging and kissing going on,
I did not join in those exciting activities, thought sound.
However, the implications of the announcement that day,
Had results upon my life that were indeed most profound.
Robert Edward McKenna
Quiz Poet Laureate
|Alfred Eisenstaedt took the photograph,
Working on the Life Magazine staff.
On V.J. Day, 14 August 1945
Treating everyone to a good laugh.
The kissing Sailor was Glen Edward McDuffie,
Thought many also claimed their half of that action
A Sailor on leave from the USS Lillinton,
Proved that only he could have caused the attraction.
Submitting to polygraph exams and biometric studies,
including Forensic Art Essentials,
Explaining his hand position in the picture
All validating McDuffie;s credentials.
Robert Edward McKenna
Quiz Poet Laureate
The sailor, the nurse, such a joyful embrace
Between two strangers in so public a place,
Their spontaneous show caught so many eyes
Yet no one knows who exactly were these two guys.
Eisenstadt made them anonymously famous
But their pic gives a dare, "betcha can't name us".
On other dates others may have thought them quite loony
Caught in the act of the Old Smackeroonie.
Understudy to Robert E. McKenna, QPL
Robert E. McKenna
|How Norm Solved the Puzzle
|This photo was taken on VJ day by Alfred
Eisenstaedt on August 14, 1945. (Note his
name at the bottom right of the photo).
I solved this photo quiz by recognizing first of
all that this was indeed a famous photo from
the end of the Second World War and then did
a Google search on the following “famous end
of second world war 2 photos”. The photo
shown in the quiz turned up at the site www.
of the Telegraph of the UK appears which
provides the detail to answer the questions
posed in the quiz.
What is interesting is that in some web sites
showing this photo, it is mentioned that it
appeared on the cover of LIFE magazine. I did
a search of the cover pages of LIFE magazine
for 1945 and it did not appear. Consequently,
this photo must have appeared as a feature
photo within one of the editions after August
14, 1945. Norm Smith
Alfred Eisenstadt took these photos a few seconds apart. Because Eisenstaedt was
photographing rapidly changing events during the V-J celebrations he didn't get a
chance to get names and details. The photograph does not clearly show the faces of
either kisser and several people have laid claim to being the subjects.
|VJ Day Kiss by Alfred Eisenstadt
|Photo taken by Victor Jorgensen
from a different angle.
|Carl Muscarello is a retired police officer with the NYPD, now
living in Plantation, Florida. In 1995, Muscarello came forward
and claimed to be the kissing sailor. Muscarello claims that he
was in Times Square on August 14, 1945, that he had consumed
several beers, and that he kissed numerous women. Edith Shain,
who is widely accepted as the nurse in the photograph, initially
said she believed Muscarello's claim to be the sailor. But in 2005,
Shain was much less certain, telling the New York Times, "I
can't say he isn't. I just can't say he is. There is no way to tell."
Chris Palmer ran across Ken McNeel in a round about way. A woman called to place an
order with Chris's Old Life Magazines and they got to talking about the "Kissing Sailor".
The woman responded, "Oh, he's my neighbor!" What a treat for a man who makes his
living retailing original life magazines. A man who knows what is on every cover and in
every issue. Chris is quick to point out that the "Kissing Sailor" was not an original
LIFE magazine cover image, as many think. As a result of his conversation with Ken
McNeel's neighbor, earlier this year, Mr. Palmer flew out to meet the real kissing sailor.
Through image comparison and interviews there is no doubt in this reporters mind, or
that of Chris Palmer, that this is indeed the real kissing sailor.
George Mendonça of Newport, Rhode Island, was identified by a
team of volunteers from the Naval War College in August 2005
as "the kisser". His claim was based on matching his scars and
tattoos to scars and tattoos in the picture. They made their choice
after much study including picture analysis by the Mitsubishi
Electric Research Lab (MERL) in Cambridge, Mass., who were
able to match scars and tattoo spotted by photo experts, and the
testimony of one Richard M Benson a photo analysis expert and
professor of photographic studies plus the former Dean of the
School of Arts at Yale University. Mr Benson has stated that, "It
is therefore my opinion, based upon a reasonable degree of certainty, that George
Mendonça is the sailor in Mr. Eisenstaedt's famous photograph."
In 1987, George Mendonça filed a lawsuit against Time Inc. in Rhode Island state
court, alleging that he was the sailor in the photograph and that both TIME and LIFE
Magazines had violated his right of publicity by using the photograph without his
permission. After Time removed the case to federal court, Mendonça survived a motion
to dismiss.  Subsequently, when Mendonça had to prove that he was, in fact, the
sailor in the photograph, Mendonça dismissed his lawsuit.
When I saw it was a photographer, I bent my hand back so you
could see the lady's face..."
Glenn McDuffie's chivalrous act is the only explanation that
makes sense when one views the photo. Not only does Glenn
know why the strange hand position and the names of every
sailor in the photo, he is the only man claiming to be the
"kissing sailor" who has taken and passed a lie detector test on
that subject. In fact, Glenn has passed 10 polygraph
examinations proving his claims of being the man in the photo
are truthful. In September 1980, he took two polygraph
examinations administered by Smiths Security Agency for ABC
Channel 13 (Houston, TX) at the behest of reporters John
Davenport and Marvin Zindler. On February 14, 1981, the took
a series of five tests, all by different operators, for F. Lee
Baily's syndicated Lie Detector show. Finally, on August 13,
2005, David Raney, Houston's premier polygraph expert tested
While the identity of the nurse has also never been confirmed,
a woman claiming to be her has came forward more than 20
years ago. Life told ABC News that in 1980, a Californian
woman named Edith Shain came forward claiming to be the
nurse in the photograph. Photographer Eisenstaedt met with
Shain and even did a piece on her for the magazine.
The fact that Shain stands only 4 feet 9 isn't helpful in
analyzing the photo, in which the sailor has her in what looks
more like a death grip than an embrace, with both of their
Glenn, and he passed with flying colors.
As a final proof, biometrics expert, Lois Gibson, has made several comparisons of
McDuffie now with his photo in New York's Times Square August 1945. Although it is
impossible to compare exact poses, even if the photos are taken days apart, Gibson
shows that all the features are consistent. She points out that all individuals' noses grow
during their entire life since the nose endings consist of cartilage. As shown in the
photos of other war vets, the nose will grow about 18% larger and longer from age 20
to age 70. Consistent with this growth, the only difference between Glenn today and at
age 80 and Glenn in the 1945 photo is a longer, larger nose.
A video of McDuffie who lives in Houston was taken by Gibson. This video was edited
for brevity to three minutes and shown to several detectives at the Houston Police
department. These detectives had seen videos and interviewed
sspects for decades in an effort to discover if they were lying
or telling the truth. All detectives were positive Glenn
McDuffie's claims are true.
McDuffie's evidence seems convincing, but without
Eisenstaedt's side of the story it's likely the sailor's identity will
always be shrouded in mystery.
Lois Gibson is recorded in The Guinness Book of World
Records as "The World's Most Successful Forensic Artist."
Her sketches have helped law enforcement bring in over
1,062 criminals. She is a graduate of the University of
Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honors
and the FBI Academy Forensic Artist Course. She now
teaches this profession at Northwestern University. Her
near-death experience as the victim of a serial rapist/killer
fuels her passion for catching criminals. She has received
numerous awards for stopping violent offenders and getting
justice for innocent victims. She lives in Houston, Texas
with her husband and two children. Her book, Faces of Evil
was co-authored with renowned writer Deanie Francis
Mills. In her spare time, Lois loves to do watercolors of
scenery and portraits of her family.
The demand for forensic art usage in investigations is rapidly
expanding due to media attention. Despite this fact, to date no
book thoroughly explains how to sketch a suspect's face from a
witness memory. Forensic Art Essentials teaches artists to
extract information from a witness or victim about a face they
have seen, and produce an image good enough to lead detectives
to the criminal being described. After reading this book, anyone
with adequate drawing skills will be able to learn the tools
necessary to develop his or her skills as a forensic artist.
Instruction focuses on an explanation of techniques for various
scenarios and includes the use of case studies of special situations and how they should
Additionally, Forensic Art Essentials covers skull reconstructions of unidentified murder
victims and age progressions to aid in the apprehension of known fugitives. The book
also provides step-by-step illustrations of how to reconstruct a face from a skull, and
offers solutions to a multitude of common problems that occur in the field. With 500
full-color illustrations, this book is an essential tool for any forensic artist.
Faces of Evil is Gibson’s riveting story of how she became the
world’s most successful forensic artist, interwoven with her thirteen
most suspense-filled cases. Gisbon takes you with her inside the
gritty atmosphere of forensics, putting you behind the scenes of
terrifying enigma after enigma and into the victims’ mind set as they
seek vindication. Follow the nine-year-old girl who sees and helps
catch her mother’s killer, the pregnant blind woman who identifies
and aids in the capture of her rapist and the hero cop whose
deathbed description leads police to his killer.
This is a fascinating true crime book like no other, mixing chilling crime scenes with
the inspiring story of one woman’s passion for justice.
|For the ABC News interview by Diane Sawyer
with Glen McDuffie, click here. (He is
incorrectly identified as George Mendoca..)