Mary Doyle Keefe

AP Photo/Jim Cole

Mary Ellen Keefe, who served as the model for Norman Rockwell's "Rosie the Riveter" painting has died. She was 92.

Her family confirmed the news to multiple outlets and stated she had passed away in Connecticut Tuesday after a brief illness.

Keefe met Rockwell when she was growing up in Arlington, Vt. She would pose for his iconic painting when she was a 19-year-old telephone operator.

The finished piece, which later appeared on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post, symbolized the millions of women who went to work on the home front during World War II.  During a 2012 interview with the Hartford Courant, Keefe recalled the famous photo session that earned her a total of $10.

"He liked to paint from photos, so his photographer took pictures of me, just posing me different ways and telling me to look this way or that," she shared. "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, "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."

The artwork was later taken across the country to sell war bonds. It's a turn of events that made Keefe pretty proud.

"There was a war on, and you did what you could," she admitted. "I didn't really make anything of it and didn't really see it or realize what would happen to that picture until it came out."

Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family. 

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share

We and our partners use cookies on this site to improve our service, perform analytics, personalize advertising, measure advertising performance, and remember website preferences. By using the site, you consent to these cookies. For more information on cookies including how to manage your consent visit our Cookie Policy.