The first inspiration for 'Rosie the Riveter' dies at age 95

The poster of Rosie the Riveter is iconic -- the red and white bandana, the bright yellow backdrop, the rolled up sleeve and "We Can Do It!" proclamation. The World War II heroine is a household name. But did you know before the art came the song? And while the identity of the woman who inspired the poster was debated for years, there was never any doubt who inspired the lyrics of 'Rosie the Riveter:' Rosalind P. Walter. After a long, incredible life, Walter passed away on March 4 at the age of 95.



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For decades, the identity of the woman who inspired the poster was in question. Geraldine Hoff Doyle was largely credited as the "real Rosie," until a deep dive into the research by scholar James Kimble proved that it was another woman: Naomi Fraley. But before any of that could happen, Walter's time as a maintenance worker was immortalized in song.

According to PBS's flagship station WNET in New York City, Walter spent a year as a night-shift welder at the Sikorsky aircraft plant at Bridgeport, Connecticut, which inspired Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb to write their 1943 song "Rosie the Riveter." Walters was just 19 at the time.

"Roz," as friends called her, was a long-time supporter of PBS and trustee for WNET. According to PBS's Inside 13, "Walter gave crucial support to countless programs and series through the Rosalind P. Walter Foundation, including American Masters, which she helped to launch; Great Performances; NYC-ARTS; Treasures of New York>; PBS NewsHour Weekend; Amanpour and Company; ALL ARTS, and the work of Ken and Ric Burns.

Walter cared deeply about the quality and educational value of public television and understood the importance of reaching the broadest possible audience. She was an inspiration to the millions of viewers who benefited from her generosity — and who saw her name every evening in connection with their favorite programs.

In addition to WNET, over the years, Walter served on the boards of the American Museum of Natural History, The Paley Center for Media (formerly The Museum of Television and Radio), Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club, International Tennis Hall of Fame, North Shore Wildlife Sanctuary, Long Island University, and USTA Serves."

Roz Walters was more than just an inspiration for a song. She was a role model for generations of a tireless work ethic, unwavering patriotism and dedication to her country.

All the day long, whether rain or shine

She's a part of the assembly line

She's making history, working for victory

Rosie, brrrrrrrrrrr, the riveter

Keeps a sharp lookout for sabotage

Sitting up there on the fuselage

That little frail can do more than a male can do

Rosie, brrrrrrrrrrr, the riveter

Rosie's got a boyfriend,

Charlie Charlie,

he's a Marine

Rosie is protecting Charlie

Workin' overtime on the riveting machine

When they gave her a production 'E'

She was as proud as a girl could be

There's something true about, red, white, and blue

about Rosie, brrrrrrrrrrr, the riveter

Doo-doo-doo-doo

Ev'ryone stops to admire the scene

Rosie at work on the P-19

She's never twittery, nervous or jittery

I'm Rosie, hm-hm-hm-hmm, the riveter

What if she's smeared full of oil and grease

Doin' her bit for the old lend-lease

She keeps the gang around, they love to hang around Rosie (Hm-hm-hm-hm, that's me, the riveter)

Rosie buys a lot of War Bonds That girl really has sense Wishes she could purchase more Bonds

Putting all her extra cash in National Defense

Oh, when they gave her a production 'E'

She was as proud as a girl could be

There's something true about, red, white, and blue

about Rosie the riveter gal

While other girls attend their favorite cocktail bar

Sipping dry Martinis, munching caviar

There's a girl who's really putting them to shame

Rosie is her name

Oh, Rosie buys a lot of War Bonds

That girl really has sense

Wishes she could purchase more Bonds

Putting all her extra cash into National Defense

Oh, Senator Jones, who was in the know

Shouted these words on the radio

Berlin will hear about, Moscow will cheer about Rosie (Hah-hah-hah-hee-hee-hee),

Rosie (Hee-hee-hee-hee) Rosie the riveter gal

Rest in peace, ma'am.