Glenn McDuffie became known for claiming that he was the sailor kissing a woman in Times Square in a famous Life magazine photograph. A postal worker and semi-professional baseball player after the war, he was identified six years ago by the Houston forensic artist Lois Gibson as the young man leaning over the woman in his arms to kiss her on 14 August 1945.
By taking about 100 pictures of McDuffie using a pillow to pose as he did in Alfred Eisenstaedt’s picture, Gibson matched McDuffie’s muscles, ears and other features to the young sailor. “I was absolutely positive,” she said. But the identification remained controversial, partly because others also claimed to have been the sailor, and because Life was unable to confirm it was McDuffie as Eisenstaedt had not taken the names of those in the picture.
Gibson, who was in the Guinness Book of World Records for helping identify more suspects than any other forensic artist, said McDuffie was ecstatic when she told him the result. He began a whirlwind lifestyle of air shows, gun shows, fund-raisers and parties to tell his story. Women would pay $10 to take a picture kissing him on the cheek. “He had the most glamorous life of any 80-year-old,” Gibson said.
McDuffie was changing trains on his way to visit his girlfriend in Brooklyn when he was told Japan had surrendered. “I was so happy,” he said. “I ran out in the street. And then I saw that nurse. She saw me hollering and with a big smile on my face ... I just went right to her and kissed her. We never spoke a word. Afterward, I just went on the subway across the street and went to Brooklyn.” µ
Glenn Edward McDuffie, sailor and postal worker: born 31 May 1927; died 9 March 2014.