UPDATED with Diana Ross reaction: Mary Wilson, a founding member of the legendary Motown group the Supremes, died suddenly at her home in Henderson, NV. She was 76.
Her friend and publicist Jay Schwartz confirmed the news but did not disclose the cause of death.
Motown founder Berry Gordy called Wilson a trailblazing diva after she signed for the record label in 1961 and remained with the original Supremes lineup until their final performance in 1970. In that time, they had 12 No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, including “Baby Love,” “You Can’t Hurry Love,” “You Keep Me Hanging On” and “Stop! In the Name of Love.” They including five consecutive chart toppers in 1964-65 and at least one No. 1 single every year from 1964-69. Billboard lists the Supremes as the No. 5 pop artists of the 1960s.
The group had scored three No. 1 albums that decade.
In a statement, Gordy said:
“I was extremely shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of a major member of the Motown family, Mary Wilson.
“The Supremes were always known as the ‘sweethearts of Motown.’ Mary, along with Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, came to Motown in the early 1960s. After an unprecedented string of No. 1 hits, television and nightclub bookings, they opened doors for themselves, the other Motown acts, and many, many others. … I was always proud of Mary.
“She was quite a star in her own right and over the years continued to work hard to boost the legacy of the Supremes. Mary Wilson was extremely special to me. She was a trailblazer, a diva and will be deeply missed.”
Diana Ross reacted to Wilson’s death on social media early Tuesday, saying she woke up to the sad news and sent condolences to Wilson’s family. “I am reminded that each day is a gift,” she tweeted, adding “I have so many wonderful memories of our our time together. The Supremes will love on in our hearts”.
Alongside her music achievements, Wilson had a screen career. She starred in the 2019 edition of Dancing with the Stars, while Wilson also featured in soccer movie Golden Shoes and in NBC’s 1960s Tarzan TV series.
I just woke up to this news , my condolences to you Mary's family ,I am reminded that each day is a gift ,I have so many wonderful memories of our time together "The Supremes " will live on ,in our hearts 💕
— Ms. Ross (@DianaRoss) February 9, 2021