As photographer Alfred Eisenstadt described the setting on Aug. 14, 1945: The sailor was kissing every female in sight, "young girls and old ladies alike, stout, thin or old." Eisenstadt claimed that the black and white image was so strikingly vivid because of the contrast between the nurse's white dress and the sailor's navy blue uniform.
Immediately after her naval encounter, Shain was approached by a soldier obviously intent on proving that a soldier could outperform a sailor in any hug-and-kiss competition. Concluding that the lengthy kiss and photographic record were a good start toward doing her part for our boys in uniform, Shain fled the scene before a line of uniforms could form, leaving the young trooper sadly disappointed and the Navy ahead 1-0.
In 1980, Shain, a teacher in Los Angeles, revealed to Life magazine that she was the unknown nurse in the celebrated picture. Embarrassment and the fear that her employer might not appreciate the photo prompted her to keep it a secret for 35 years.
Shortly thereafter, she met with Eisenstadt, and after examining her legs, he proclaimed her "the one and only nurse" in the photo. In 1980, Life magazine asked the sailor in the picture to come forward and 11 men claimed the honor, in addition to three other women. The faces in the picture being largely obscured, lie detector tests, forensic analysis of facial features and the matching of scars and tattoos failed to definitively identify the actual "kisser." One individual sued to no avail, claiming that he was the sailor in the photo, and that his privacy had been violated.