This photograph is of nurse Edith Shain and a Navy sailor celebrating the end of World War II in August 1945. Published in Life magazine, this photo captured the euphoria of the end of war. She had been working at Doctors Hospital in New York when she heard that the Japanese had surrendered and along with thousands of other jubilant New Yorkers flooded Times Square for an impromptu celebration. “Someone grabbed me and kissed me,” Ms. Shain said. “I closed my eyes when I kissed him. I never saw him.”
This is one of the most famous photographs taken by Robert Doisneau. He claimed to have captured it while sitting at a cafe in front of the Hotel de Ville in Paris but he actually staged the scene with models. However it was created, this is one of the great kisses ever captured on film.
In March 1956 photographer Albert Wertheimer took on the task of taking pictures of Elvis Presley. He took some now famous, spontaneous photos of Elvis that have been celebrated ever since. This one, known as “The Kiss,” took place in a dark alcove behind the stage of the Mosque Theatre in Richmond, Virginia, about two minutes before Elvis performed on June 30, 1956. This fan said to Elvis. “I’ll bet you can’t kiss me,” and Elvis replied, “I betcha I can.” Elvis was right.
The famous kissing on the beach scene of Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in the 1953 film, “From Here To Eternity,” is appropriately well remembered. In this classic movie Lancaster played a sergeant stationed in Hawaii in the immediate pre-World War II era who is having an affair with his commanding officer’s wife, Kerr. This is one of the best kiss scenes ever filmed.
The television series Star Trek (1966-1969) is memorable for many reasons, and breaking down racial and ethnic stereotypes was one of them. In the episode “Plato’s Stepchildren” (November 1968) William Shatner (Capt. Kirk) and Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura) took part in an on-screen kiss that was overtly romantic and rarely contemplated during that period. It had the whole studio buzzing both prior to and during its filming. It was just too much for some TV stations in the South who did not want to upset their viewers and refused to air the episode during its first run. This was not the first interracial kiss on U.S. television, however. On Star Trek Shatner, who’s character was a bit of a playboy, had kissed an Asian actor in an earlier episode. More importantly, African American entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. kissed white singer Nancy Sinatra on her variety show on December 1967. It’s hard to believe looking back more than 40 years why this was such a big deal; something I believe people will also say in the future about many of the mores of our own time.
I had to put this picture in because of the narration that accompanied it in The Princess Bride, 1987. The narrator says: “Since the invention of the kiss there have been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind. The End.” Perhaps that says it all!