Life Magazine's iconic V-J Day kiss photo mirrored in a long lost print by unknown photographer
“The Kiss,” taken on V-J Day in Times Square by Alfred Eisenstaedt and published in Life Magazine is certainly one of the most famous photos of all time. The photo has become a fascination, spawning wild goose chases to find the couple pictured.
American Photo discovered Hellerman's shot, taken exactly 70 years ago, on August 14, 1945, in Hartford, Connecticut.
“It was just a flurry of activity,” Hellerman told American Photo, describing the scene on the street. “Everybody gravitated to downtown.”
Hellerman's other insight may explain why his photo so resembles Eisenstaedt's. The couple pictured, perhaps in both photos, were not actually a couple at all. In fact, they were complete strangers. Hellerman says this behavior was common in men who had just returned from battle.
“You might call him a predator this guy, or being a little more aggressive than our culture now accepts. They were just grabbing every woman around," Hellerman said.
His wife, Betty Hellerman, added her perspective on the day. “It was an unbelievable feeling," she said. "As young as I was, I knew something magnificent had happened that this war was over. Young women, old women, they were just kissing and hugging, and they would grab a veteran. After what happened in Vietnam, there wasn’t that feeling. There was such a jubilance and it’s never happened since.”