Rosalind Walter, The Original ‘Rosie The Riveter,’ Dies At 95
The original Rosie the Riveter, Rosalind P. Walter, died at her home in Manhattan on Wednesday at 95-years-old.
Walter was the inspiration for the Four Vagabonds song “Rosie the Riveter,” after the band read a newspaper column about her work. She drove rivets into Cosair fighter planes at a plant in Connecticut in 1942, the year after America joined World War II.
Walter grew up in Fairfield, Connecticut as a child of well-off parents. She planned to go to college, but as she graduated preparatory school, the United States joined the war. So, at 19 she decided to serve her country by working at the factory instead of going to college.
“Rosie” isn’t Walter’s only claim to fame, though. Walter was a huge funder of public television and radio. She used inherited money from her parents, and her second husband, Henry Walter, who was the CEO of a successful fragrance and flavor company.
She was one of PBS’s top benefactors and was the largest individual supporter of the station WNET in New York. She was also a board member for the American Museum of Natural History and the Paley Center for Media.
Walter believed strongly in public television because she thought education was important for everyone. Since she never attended college she felt there were gaps in her understanding, according to reporting by the New York Times.
Although Walter is not the “Rosie the Riveter” from the famous “We Can Do It!” cartoon, nor the woman who Norman Rockwell painted on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post, she was the first. Her story made “Rosie The Riveter” into a song and a household name.