WASHINGTON — The woman believed to be the “real” Rosie the Riveter died Saturday at age 96, according to her daughter-in-law Marnie Blankenship.
Naomi Parker Fraley, who Blankenship says died in hospice care, was not recognized as the inspiration for the famous World War II era poster until 2015.
During World War II, Fraley was a factory worker at Alameda Naval Station, according to CNN affiliate KATU. She was one of millions of women across the United States who filled the labor force during the war. While Fraley was working a press photographer approached her to take her picture, Blankenship said.
Over 60 years later, Fraley attended a convention for women who, like Rosie the Riveter, worked during the war. There, said Blankenship, Fraley saw a photograph promoted as the likely inspiration behind the iconic image of Rosie the Riveter in the “We can do it” poster.
Blankenship says Fraley immediately recognized the picture as the one the photographer captured of her all those years ago.
But the picture was credited as being of another woman: Geraldine Hoff Doyle.
Doyle had previously been known as the real Rosie. According to Seton Hall University Professor James J. Kimble, Doyle’s identity as Rosie the Riveter began when the photograph of the woman in the factory was first released as the most likely inspiration for Rosie. Kimble says Doyle recognized her likeness in the picture — and the propaganda poster it inspired — and her resemblance was accepted in reports as the origin of Rosie the Riveter.
But in 2015 Kimble’s years of research into the iconic image revealed the original photograph with a caption that named the woman as Naomi Parker.
Even when she found out that Dr. Kimble’s research claims that she was likely a face of both World War II propaganda and subsequent feminist movements, Blankenship says Fraley didn’t make a big deal of it.
“She didn’t think she did anything special,” said Blankenship. “A lot of women did what she did. She just wanted her picture corrected.”