Mary Wilson, the Motown legend and co-founder of The Supremes, has died suddenly at age 76. Her longtime friend and publicist Jay Schwartz confirmed the news on Feb. 9, reported “Good Morning America,” but no cause of death was revealed.
An outpouring of tributes ensued, including one from Wilson’s former bandmate in The Supremes, Diana Ross.
“I have so many wonderful memories of our time together,” Ross tweeted. “‘The Supremes will live on, in our hearts.”
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
The Supremes was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 and is hailed for paving the way for future Black (and female) artists. But there’s more to Wilson than her place in the legendary girl group. Here are five things you might not know about her.
She Was A Published Author
Wilson’s 1986 tell-all memoir, “Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme,” became a best-selling rock ‘n’ roll autobiography. She also authored a 2019 book about the band’s eye-catching stage costumes, “Supreme Glamour.”
“We were always stylish,” she said in an interview on NBC New York in 2019. “Our pearls were bought from Woolworth, okay, but they were pearls to us, the look. We were always into dressing up.”
She Toured The World To Raise Awareness Of HIV/AIDS
In 2003, Wilson was named a U.S. cultural ambassador by the State Department. She traveled around the world, including the African country of Botswana, talking to young people about the dangers of HIV and AIDS.
She Took Part In ‘Dancing With The Stars’
Wilson showed off her dance moves on the ballroom during the 28th season of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” in 2019. For the season premiere, Wilson and her partner Brandon Armstrong performed the foxtrot to “Baby Love” — one of The Supremes’ many No. 1 hits. Although they were the first couple to be eliminated, Wilson made an impact on the show.
“Mary Wilson was born to be an entertainer and her legacy will live on forever,” the Twitter account for “Dancing With the Stars” posted. “We extend our deepest condolences to her loved ones and feel honored to have her as part of our Dancing With the Stars family.”
Mary Wilson was born to be an entertainer and her legacy will live on forever. We extend our deepest condolences to her loved ones and feel honored to have her as part of the Dancing with the Stars family. pic.twitter.com/YGZqQP8G8r
— Dancing with the Stars #DWTS (@DancingABC) February 9, 2021
She Promoted Mental Health Awareness
On January 29, Wilson revealed that she had united with National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) for a special song “You Are Not Alone” to raise funds and awareness for mental health. She tweeted that was “so proud” to be part of it.
I'm so proud to be part of this special song "You Are Not Alone" to unite with NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) to raise funds and awareness to mental health. 💕 https://t.co/KGZcmNl9Gohttps://t.co/lkZ4q8eJ7D
— Mary Wilson (@MWilsonSupreme) January 29, 2021
She Was About To Release More Music
Only days before she died, Wilson announced that that new music was on its way. In a YouTube video dated Feb. 6, she said previously unheard tracks and some brand new recordings were being put together for a March release. The upcoming material includes an unreleased album from the ’70s, “Red Hot.”
“I am just so thrilled because so much has happened to me in the month of February, I mean really — not saying me, I mean The Supremes, you know,” Wilson said. “We’re going to be talking about Supremes, yeah, 60th anniversary! And I will be talking a lot about that, mainly because I have finally have decided how to work with Universal and they are going to release new recordings, new Wilson recordings. Yes! At last!”
RIP to an amazing trailblazer and musical diva.