In the black-and-white photo, the sailor would always be a young man, locked in a kiss with a nurse in New York's Times Square to mark the end of World War Two.
Glenn Edward McDuffie, who said he was the kissing sailor in the iconic Life magazine photograph, died this month at the age of 86, the Houston Chronicle newspaper reported on Friday.
For years, many men had claimed to be the sailor in the photograph taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt. In 2007, Life magazine's parent, Time, reported that McDuffie likely was the man, based on an analysis by a police forensic artist.
McDuffie told the Chronicle in 2007 that he never spoke to the nurse before he kissed her during celebrations to mark the end of fighting with Japan in August 1945. He was 18 at the time.
"When I got off from the subway, a lady told me the war was over, and I went into the street yelling. I saw the nurse and she was smiling at me, so I just grabbed her," he said.
He said he kept quiet about the picture for years and only came forward in 1980, when the editors of Life were seeking the two people in the photograph.
"I never thought I needed publicity, just to be somebody," McDuffie told the Chronicle. "But it made me mad they wouldn't recognize it was me."
He spent the last years of his life in poor health. His daughter, Glenda Bell, told the Chronicle that when women asked to recreate the photograph with him, he gave them a peck on the cheek.
McDuffie, who spent most of his post-war years in Houston, will be buried in a veteran's cemetery in Dallas, family members told the newspaper.