Geraldine Hoff Doyle, 'We Can Do It!' poster inspiration, dies at 86
December 30th, 2010
09:00 AM ET

Geraldine Hoff Doyle, 'We Can Do It!' poster inspiration, dies at 86

The woman who inspired the famous World War II "We Can Do It!" poster has died.

Geraldine Hoff Doyle was just 17 when a United Press photographer captured her in 1942 working at a Michigan metal factory, wearing a red polka-dotted bandanna.

Her pretty face caught the eye of artist J. Howard Miller, who had been commissioned by the government to create a series of motivational posters for factory workers.

The face on the poster was Doyle's, but the powerful muscles were not, her daughter Stephanie Gregg of Eaton Rapids, Michigan, told The New York Times.

"She didn't have big, muscular arms," Gregg said in the Times' obituary. "She was 5-foot-10 and very slender. She was a glamour girl. The arched eyebrows, the beautiful lips, the shape of the face — that's her."

Doyle abandoned the factory job after just two weeks, worried that she might injure her hands and not be able to play cello anymore, according to the Washington Post. She took a job at a soda fountain, where she met her future husband.

The poster eventually became an icon of women's empowerment, but Doyle never recognized her own face on it until 1984, when she saw it in Modern Maturity magazine, the Lansing (Michigan) State Journal reported.

Doyle was married for 66 years to dentist Leo Doyle, who died in February. They had six children, 18 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren. Geraldine Doyle died Sunday at a hospice facility in Lansing, her daughter said. She was 86.

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Filed under: Art • History • Michigan • Obituary • U.S. • War
soundoff (110 Responses)
  1. JFK

    If a female representative of American society were selected today for this symbolic poster , she would have arms covered in tattoos, a nose and eye brow piercing, a rainbow pin on her shirt (don't confuse with skirt), empowered with the equivalent of a 4th grade education.

    December 30, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Richard in Texas

    Rob Johnson.
    Just to let you know this still is the Unted States and fate still exsists.

    December 30, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bill Clinton

    What is it with all you fools? George didn't create all this mess, I did.... Now get it right.

    December 30, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bill Clinton

    bla bla bla bla bla
    that is all that I read by most of you dumb a$$es posters. When are you going to find out the truth? Liberal trash has lied to you soooooo much that you have finally fallen for it. MORONS

    December 30, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bill Clinton

    bla bla bla bla bla
    that is all that I read by most of you dumb a$$es posters. When are you going to find out the truth? Liberal trash has lied to you soooooo much that you have finally fallen for it. MORONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 30, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Richard in Texas

    Response to #79
    We snet men to the moom, landed, walked on it and then returned safely. All in under 10 years

    December 30, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Richard in Texas

    Who was president in 2007 ? Oh yeah, Bush. So he could not stop any of the things you ranted about? Sounds like he was a pretty weak president. Oh and by the way the republicans controlled Congress until 2006. They were kicked out because the economy was tanking.

    December 30, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  8. henryJay


    December 30, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Lauretta Doyle

    Geraldine was my mother and she did quit the factory job, but got another job right away and worked most of her entire life. She met my father working at a soda fountain when he was a poor, struggling dental student from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Geraldine retired at age 75 when my father, Leo, retired at age 78. We grew up in a working family. Her beauty did not insure her a life of leisure. This woman worked hard as did my father. They both shared in the household chores, caring for and raising children, cleaning and cooking. They lost a son, Gary, in 1980-so life was NOT easy on them. They did come from the greatest generation and they are sorely missed. Thank you to those offering condolences.

    January 1, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • TIm

      Condolences, she was the face of a nation! Thanks for her story.

      June 20, 2013 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Septocaine

    You should see what happens to these protected class citizens in the military. It is a joke of the first order. Always a pass, always an excuse, always a free ride. Getting out of deployment, operational commitments due to "issues, boyfriends, pregnancy, depression, fibromyalgia, health problems, emotional disorders...." Always ready to carry the fight to the enemy – soon on submarines. Way to go Armed Services Committee, main branch of the Social Engineering Club. When the COLE was bombed, guess who was sitting on the pier sobbing and crying. Not the men....

    December 30, 2010 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
  11. Wzrd1

    Nice, so you ignore those who DID fight. Those who DID work the factories in WWII over one example.
    Perhaps you should look around a lot more. I know first hand that women DID fight in the last two Persian Gulf wars, not by choice of congress, but because they were attacked and joined the rest of the service members in the firefight.
    And to put not too fine a point on it, I know for a fact that several female service members and any of a dozen civilians could mop the floor with your pansy, twinkie eating butts.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
  12. ross

    So you're a quitter.. nice to see people here comparing the military in those days to the military of today.
    There is no comparison.... just look at what the "military" is doing today..... couldnt fight their way out of
    a paper bag!!!

    December 30, 2010 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  13. Yeti37

    Stop feeding the trolls, people!

    December 30, 2010 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  14. Bill Clinton

    Y0U liberal fools...

    December 30, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
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