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8 Momentous Kisses in History

February 13, 2020 in History

By Becky Little

From Judas to V-J Day to an interracial Star Trek encounter, see what kisses left their mark in history.

Despite , when Al Pacino’s character gives his brother Fredo the kiss of death for betraying him.

First Kiss on Film (1896)

May Irwin and John C. Rice, stars of the short film, “May Irwin kiss,” by Thomas Edison’s studio.

The first people to smooch on film were May Irwin and John C. Rice, who appeared in a short film known variously as May Irwin kiss, Kiss or The Kiss. In 1896, the two performers went to Thomas Edison’s studio in New Jersey and reenacted their final kiss scene from a play they were putting on in New York City.

On stage, no one thought the kiss was that sensational. But many felt the close-up footage of them kissing was too risqué.

First Black Kiss on Film (1898)

Video courtesy of USC School of Cinematic Arts, Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive

In 1898, black performers Saint Suttle and Gertie Brown starred in a short film titled Something Good-Negro Kiss, the first film to show black Americans kissing. In 2017, film historians rediscovered the footage, which was filmed by a white man named William Selig in Chicago.

“There’s a performance there because they’re dancing with one another, but their kissing has an unmistakable sense of naturalness, pleasure and amusement as well,” Allyson Nadia Field, a professor of cinema and media studies at the University of Chicago who helped identify the film, said in a university press release. “It is really striking to me, as a historian who works on race and cinema, to think that this kind of artifact could have existed in 1898.”

V-J Day Kiss (1945)

An American sailor clutching a white-uniformed woman in a back-bending, passionate kiss in Times Square to celebrate the long awaited-victory over Japan.

On the morning of August 14, 1945, patients burst into Greta Zimmer’s Manhattan office claiming the war in Japan was over. The Austrian immigrant wasn’t sure what to think, so on her lunch break, she went to Times Square in her white dental assistant’s uniform to see what the news ticker said. The atmosphere there was celebratory, and the ticker confirmed that it was indeed V-J Day, and World War II was over.

As Zimmer looked away from the ticker, a Navy sailor …read more