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However, Fraley was not identified as the muse for Rosie because another woman, named Geraldine Hoff Doyle, who worked in a factory in Michigan, was labeled “the real-life Rosie the Riveter” since she believed she saw herself in an uncaptioned reprint of Fraley’s photo in the 1980s.
Fraley was unaware of her identity on the poster for 30 years until she was informed that her photo had been misidentified. “I couldn’t believe it because it was me in the photo, but there was somebody else’s name in the caption: Geraldine. I was amazed,” Fraley told People in September 2016.
However, it was too late to set the record straight as Hoff Doyle’s identity was already cemented as Rosie. “I just wanted my own identity. I didn’t want fame or fortune, but I did want my own identity,” Fraley recalled.
That was until 2015, when she met James J. Kimble, a professor of communications at Seton Hall University in New Jersey whose six years of research led him straight to Fraley’s door.
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“She had been robbed of her part of history. It’s so hurtful to be misidentified like that,” Kimble told People at the time. “It’s like the train has left the station and you’re standing there and there’s nothing you can do because you’re 95 and no one listens to your story.”
Most poignantly, given the current social climate in Hollywood and many industries, Fraley’s message about working women still resonates.
“The women of this country these days need some icons. If they think I’m one, I’m happy about that,” she said.