Norman Rockwell's 'Rosie the Riveter' Model Dead at 92

In Depth

The model for Rockwell’s famous “Rosie the Riveter” painting (not to be confused with the beloved “We Can Do It” poster) has died. Mary Doyle Keefe was 92.

Here’s the interesting part: At the time she sat for Rockwell, Keefe wasn’t a factory worker but a telephone operator who happened to live nearby, and he changed her physique rather dramatically. The Washington Post says:

The resulting image — of “Rosie” with a rivet gun on her lap, sandwich in hand and “Mein Kempf” beneath her feet — didn’t quite resemble the 19-year-old. Keefe, who told the Courant she had never even seen a rivet gun before, was petite, contrasting with Rosie’s large biceps, broad shoulders and large hands.
“Other than the red hair and my face, Norman Rockwell embellished Rosie’s body,” Keefe told the Courtant. “I was much smaller than that and did not know how he was going to make me look like that until I saw the finished painting.”

“I don’t remember the photographer telling me to have any kind of attitude on my face, but I’m 90 and don’t remember,” she added.

Photo via AP Images.

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