Diana Ross reflects on Mary Wilson’s death: ‘The Supremes will live on in our hearts’

A portrait of Mary Wilson
Mary Wilson, the longest-reigning of the original Supremes, died Monday at her home in Las Vegas.
(Perry C. Riddle / Los Angeles Times)

Like so many others, Diana Ross woke up to sad news Tuesday: Mary Wilson, an original member of the pioneering pop trio the Supremes alongside Ross and Florence Ballard, had died.

“I am reminded that each day is a gift,” Ross said on Twitter. “I have so many wonderful memories of our time together. ‘The Supremes’ will live on in our hearts.”

Mary Wilson died Monday night at her Las Vegas home, her publicist said. She, Diana Ross and Florence Ballard were the first successful Supremes lineup.


Ross wasn’t alone in expressing her condolences — she was joined by the likes of Patti LaBelle, Gloria Gaynor, Paul Stanley, LaToya Jackson, Viola Davis, Neil deGrasse Tyson and others.

Bruce Resnikoff, Universal Music Enterprises president and CEO, spoke with clarity about Wilson’s role in music.

“Many artists have Mary to thank as she was often the spokesperson for the music industry and known as a fierce advocate for artist rights and copyright protection,” he said in a statement on the UMe and Classic Motown Twitter feeds. “But it was her music, first and foremost, that helped bridge America’s cultural divide and continues to inspire a new generation.”

“She was a legend and an icon and what she contributed to the world cannot be overstated,” LaBelle tweeted. “I send my deepest condolences and prayers to her family, loved ones and fans.”

“OMG! Mary Wilson of the Supremes has died suddenly. I was just on a Zoom call with her Wednesday for about an hour & never could have imagined this,” KISS co-founder Stanley tweeted. “So full of life & great stories. Absolutely shocked. Rest In Supreme Peace Mary.”

Tweeted Gaynor: “I’m truly disturbed & saddened by Mary Wilson’s passing. We’ve lost yet another outstanding star in our entertainment galaxy. She was an amazing talent, a lovely & warm person who will be sorely missed.”

“RIP to the original Supreme, Mary Wilson. She was known as ‘the sexy one’ in the group but she was much more, and worked til the end to preserve the group’s incredible legacy in the music world and in history,” tweeted Andy Cohen. The TV host also posted a personal memory about waiting in line to meet the “dazzling” Wilson when he was in college.

“Mary was a force of nature,” Mitch Glazier, Recording Industry Association of America chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “She never stopped pushing for what she thought was right and would not shy away from a worthy fight. And she made a difference — securing fair treatment for generations of classic artists and paving the way for tomorrow’s stars. A towering figure in the history of music and artist rights, all of us at RIAA are proud and honored to have called Mary a friend.”

Wilson herself was tweeting less than a month ago, “I turn 77 in March, & I can’t wait!” And in a video posted to YouTube Saturday she was excited about Black History Month and the upcoming Universal Music release of new recordings of her music.

Here is a further sampling of reactions to Wilson’s death, which happened Monday night at her home in Las Vegas. No cause of death has been reported yet.