Geraldine Doyle, believed to be the inspiration for the iconic “Rosie the Riveter” poster, died over the weekend in Lansing, Michigan of complications of arthritis.
Doyle, who was 86, took an industrial job at the age of 17- as many women at the time did- to support the war effort. During the weeks she worked at the plant, the photo of Doyle on which the illustration was based was taken, but Doyle did not know it existed until the 1982 after feminists began using it as a symbol of female empowerment.
Doyle’s daughter told the New York Times that the image was not, in her view, totally true to life:
Her daughter said that the face on the poster was her mother’s, but that the muscles were not.
“She didn’t have big, muscular arms,” Mrs. Gregg said. “She was 5-foot-10 and very slender. She was a glamour girl. The arched eyebrows, the beautiful lips, the shape of the face — that’s her.”
The real-life Rosie the Riveter quit the factory just two weeks after she began, fearing a possible hand injury would interfere with her cello-playing.