LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Mary Wilson, a founding member of The Supremes, died Monday at her home in Henderson, Nevada, according to her longtime friend and publicist Jay Schwartz. She was 76.
Wilson helped change the face of pop music as an original member of The Supremes by breaking down social, racial and gender barriers. Founded in Detroit as The Primettes in 1959, the group was Motown’s most successful act of the 1960s with 12 number one singles.
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“I was always proud of Mary,” Berry Gordy, Motown founder, said in a statement. “She was quite a star in her own right and over the years continued to work hard to boost the legacy of the Supremes. … she was a trailblazer, a dive and will be deeply missed.”
The Supremes disbanded following Wilson’s 1977 departure. She later became a New York Times bestselling author in 1986 with the release of her autobiography, “Dreamgirl: My Life As a Supreme.”
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She also became a musicians’ rights activist as well as a musical theater performer and organized museum displays of the Supremes’ famed costumes.
She, along with Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.
She is survived by her two children, Turkessa and Pedro Antonio Jr., siblings, Kathryn and Roosevelt, and numerous grandchildren. The family said services would be private due to COVID restrictions.
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In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that friends and fans support the United Negro College Fund and the Humpty Dumpty Institute.