Here are three frames from Eisenstaedt’s set of the sailor kissing the nurse. In the book Eisenstaedt on Eisentstaedt, the photographer wrote:
I saw a sailor running along the street grabbing any and every girl in sight. Whether she was a grandmother, stout, thin, old, didn’t make a difference. I was running ahead of him with my Leica looking back over my shoulder but none of the pictures that were possible pleased me. Then suddenly, in a flash, I saw something white being grabbed. I turned around and clicked the moment the sailor kissed the nurse…. It was done within a few seconds.”
Originally, this most famous of World War II photos did not make the cover of Life magazine in which it first appeared; it showed up on page 27, full-page, but amid a whole series of somewhat similar pictures from across the country under the headline, “The Men of War Kiss From Coast to Coast.” The photo didn’t appear on a Life cover until 2005.
However, in October 1980, Life did run a special spread entitled “Who Is the Kissing Sailor?” Ten sailors wrote to the magazine, each one insisting with convincing evidence — a distinctive hairline, a signature vein on the right hand, a newly acquired Quartermaster 1st Class patch — that he was the “kissing sailor”. Three women also wrote in and claimed to be the nurse.