Geraldine Hoff Doyle, 86, who was believed to be the unwitting model for the "We Can Do It!" poster of a woman flexing her biceps in a factory during World War II - an image that later became a symbol for the American feminist movement - died Sunday in Lansing, Mich.
The cause was complications of arthritis, said her daughter Stephanie Gregg.
Ms. Doyle was unaware of the poster's existence until 1982, when, while thumbing through a magazine, she saw a photograph of it and recognized herself. Her daughter said that the face on the poster was her mother's but that the muscles were not.
"She didn't have big, muscular arms," Gregg said. "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."
In 1942, when she was 17, Ms. Doyle took a job as a metal presser at a factory near her home in Inkster, Mich., near Detroit, to aid the war effort, Gregg said. One day, a United Press photographer came in to shoot images of working women.
The resulting poster, designed by graphic artist J. Howard Miller, was used in a Westinghouse Co. campaign to deter strikes and absenteeism. It was not widely seen until the early 1980s, when it was embraced by feminists.
She quit the factory job after about two weeks because she learned that another woman had damaged her hands while using the metal presser, and she feared such an injury would prevent her from playing the cello, her daughter said.
At one of her next jobs, at a soda fountain, she met her husband, Leo H. Doyle, a dental student. They had been married for 66 years when he died this year.
- N.Y. Times News Service