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.

Post by:
Filed under: Art • History • Michigan • Obituary • U.S. • War
soundoff (110 Responses)
  1. Diana Phung

    Wow!!! I have this poster in my office. I love it too. It shows show much meaning!

    December 30, 2010 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  2. Dave Hoff

    That's my Aunt!! She was a very pretty woman. May she rest in peace. Our thoughts are with her family of chlidren, grandchildren and great grandchildren.


    December 30, 2010 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Yeti37

      My sympathies to your family.

      Your aunts photo hangs in my classroom for 100 kids to see and admire every year.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Yiddishlion

      Could you post some more pictures of her both recent and older? I think people would greatly appreciate it.

      December 30, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Missa.

    Aww. I would love to see a the picture of her back then.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  4. Peter Skiley

    Who's going to make her husband dinner NOW??

    December 30, 2010 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
    • EvoDevo

      He's dead. Read the @#!%# article NOW!

      December 30, 2010 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Yeti37

      Don't feed the trolls

      December 30, 2010 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  5. LoBalSuai

    Yes we did and your welcome France and England!

    December 30, 2010 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Luke

      Who is the we you are talking about. Unless you are in your 80's or so, I suggest you use the term THEY.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  6. Shaun

    I bet you would panama red.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jack

    The beautiful ones always seem to find wealthy husbands (i.e., doctors, dentists, attorneys, etc.).

    December 30, 2010 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  8. Baby Boomer

    I have the T-shirt and coffee mug!! Awesome iconic figure for women of all ages

    December 30, 2010 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  9. noteabags

    I'm totally disappointed those weren't her arms.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  10. Lariatsam

    It really doesn't matter how long she worked at the job. She inspired millions of workers and an entire country towards perseverance during a very long, hard fought war. That, in itself is worth more than you or I will ever accomplish in our life time. And I've been on the job for over 40 years straight!

    December 30, 2010 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  11. Diamond

    Need new images anyway, R.I.P

    December 30, 2010 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  12. Harry

    The new poster is of Yoda saying "Do it, can we young Jedi". She looks hot for being 86.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  13. Chris

    "poster inspiration, dies at 86"
    Yay! Death to feminism. They want more rights not equal rights.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  14. pteromalid

    Here is a link with the UPI photo that inspired the poster:

    December 30, 2010 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  15. youwillneverknow

    Is it normal that I have never herd of this "famous poster" either in the sky mall magazine?

    December 30, 2010 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4