[T]he woman in the patriotic poster...Oh, the irony! She couldn't do it. But she could inspire others to do it. And she could do other things, like play the cello and rear 6 children. "We" can do it, each in our own way. You work the machines, I'll help people find the right books.
... was never named Rosie, nor was she a riveter. All along it was Mrs. Doyle, who after graduating from high school in Ann Arbor, Mich., took a job at a metal factory, her family said.
One day, a photographer representing United Press International came to her factory and captured Mrs. Doyle leaning over a piece of machinery and wearing a red and white polka-dot bandanna over her hair.
In early 1942, the Westinghouse Corp. commissioned artist J. Howard Miller to produce several morale-boosting posters to be displayed inside its buildings. The project was funded by the government as a way to motivate workers and perhaps recruit new ones for the war effort.
Smitten with the UPI photo, Miller reportedly was said to have decided to base one of his posters on the anonymous, slender metal worker - Mrs. Doyle.
For four decades, this fact escaped Mrs. Doyle, who shortly after the photo was taken left her job at the factory. She barely lasted two weeks.
A cellist, Mrs. Doyle was horrified to learn that a previous worker at the factory had badly injured her hands working at the machines. She found safer employment at a soda fountain and bookshop in Ann Arbor, where she wooed a young dental school student and later became his wife.
Here's the Norman Rockwell version of Rosie, who's not nearly so glamorous and is clearly not based on Mrs. Doyle:
The 52-by-40-inch oil on canvas depicts "Rosie" on lunch break, her riveting gun on her lap as she uses a dog-eared copy of Mein Kampf as a foot stool.Great symbolism, Norman. And I don't mean the book. I mean the manly power tool.
Rockwell's Rosie is posed as an homage to Michelangelo's frescoed depiction of the prophet Isaiah from the Sistine Chapel ceiling.Here's Michelangelo's Isaiah, who's more respectful of his book, which is about God, not his struggle against lies, stupidity and cowardice.