Model For The Iconic Rosie The Riveter Painting Dies At 92

Photo: JIM COLE/AP IMAGES.
The model who posed for Norman Rockwell's famous 1943 Rosie the Riveter painting has died. Mary Doyle Keefe was 92 years old when she passed away at her home in Simsbury, Connecticut on Tuesday. 

Rosie the Riveter first appeared during World War II and became a symbol for the millions of women who joined the workforce in place of men who'd gone overseas. In May 1943, the iconic Rockwell Rosie went mainstream after it appeared on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. (Another common — but different — image with the "We Can Do It" slogan appeared around the same time.)

In the decades after the war, Rosie has become a symbol for female strength overall. She's popped up in at least one epic Instagram post by Beyoncé and inspired hundreds of last minute Halloween costumes.

Keefe met Norman Rockwell in her hometown of Arlington, Vermont. The painter accentuated the young telephone operator's delicate frame, bulking up her arms and shoulders. In a not-so-subtle nod to the war, he put a copy of Mein Kampf crushed beneath her feet.

Keefe was paid $10 when she posed for the painting. In 2002, the work sold at auction for $4.9 million. It's since been acquired by the Crystal Bridges museum in Arkansas.
Advertisement