Public Media Arts Hub

Remembering Rosalind P. Walter's impact on PBS programming


Notice: Transcripts are machine and human generated and lightly edited for accuracy. They may contain errors.

Hari Sreenivasan: This week, Rosalind P. Walter, one of the most generous and devoted supporters of PBS programming--including the NewsHour and NewsHour Weekend-- died at age 95.

Her name has been a constant on the credits of programs like American Masters -- which she helped launch, to Great Performances, to Ken and Ric Burns' documentaries and dozens of other programs since the mid 1970s.

Rosalind P. Walter served as a trustee at WNET for more than thirty years and became the station's most generous individual supporter in its history. But most people don't know that Rosalind P. Walter was also the inspiration for a 1942 hit song "Rosie the Riveter" and the posters honoring the women who worked in U.S. factories during World War Two.

In the early years of WWII, Roz worked as a Riveter on the night shift at a long island aircraft plant making the corsair fighter planes.

Rosalind P. Walter: They had to find out whether women could get the same pay for doing the same job so they timed me after I had learned them all and I broke all the men's records so they had to pay the women the same amount.

Hari Sreenivasan: She was never known as Rosie--always Roz--but the song was born.

Rosalind P. Walter was born into a privileged, wealthy family--her father was was president and chairman of the pharmaceutical company E.R. Squibb & Sons and her mother was a well-known educator, poet and writer; but her parents refused to allow her to attend college.

She once said that she chose public television as the focus of her philanthropy because she quote -- "wanted all Americans, whether they were rich or poor, well educated or not so well educated, to have equal access to news and knowledge and the arts."

Her legacy is ours to carry on.

Thank you Rosalind P. Walter.

Support Canvas

Sustain our coverage of culture, arts and literature.

Send Us Your Ideas
Let us know what you'd like to see on ArtsCanvas. Your thoughts and opinions matter.