Did you know that the iconic “Rosie the Riveter” image shown above, created in 1942 by Pittsburgh artist J. Howard Miller was not the most popular image of “Rosie” during World War II? The most popular Rosie image was created in 1943 by Norman Rockwell and was featured on the cover of the Memorial Day issue of The Saturday Evening Post:
Per Wiki: Rockwell’s illustration features a brawny woman taking her lunch break with a rivet gun on her lap and beneath her Penny loafer a copy of Hitler’s manifesto, Mein Kampf. Her lunch pail reads “Rosie”; viewers quickly recognized this to be “Rosie the Riveter” from the familiar song. Rockwell, America’s best-known popular illustrator of the day, posed his model to match the Sistine Chapel ceiling image of the prophet Isaiah, painted by Michelangelo in 1509. Rockwell’s model was a Vermont resident, 19-year-old Mary Doyle who was a telephone operator near where Rockwell lived, not a riveter. Rockwell painted his “Rosie” as a larger woman than his model, and he later phoned to apologize. The Post’s cover image proved hugely popular, and the magazine loaned it to the U.S. Treasury Department for the duration of the war, for use in war bond drives.
From the Department of Labor: After the war, numerous requests were made for the Saturday Evening Post image of Rosie the Riveter, but Curtis Publishing, the owner of the Post, refused all requests. The publishing company was possibly concerned that the composers of the song “Rosie the Riveter” would hold them liable for copyright infringement.
Since then, the J. Howard Miller “We Can Do It!” image (shown above) has replaced Norman Rockwell’s illustration as “Rosie the Riveter” in the minds of many people. Miller’s Rosie has been imprinted on coffee mugs, mouse pads, and countless other items, making her and not the original “Rosie” the most famous of all labor icons.