Mary Wilson, the trailblazing co-founder of The Supremes, died suddenly on Monday evening at her home in Nevada. No cause of death was given.
Wilson, at age 76, was the longest member of the the iconic all-female Motown group from the 1960s, which she formed with Florence Ballard and Diana Ross. The Supremes would go on to dominate the charts in the 1960s, breaking a host of chart records to become one of the best-selling female groups of all time and churning out timeless hits for generations to come along the way.
Just last month, Wilson reminisced about the beginnings of The Supremes in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. She also touched on her view on the rest of her life when discussing a potential Supremes reunion. “It’s really up to Diana,” she said, noting how they almost came back together in 2000. “I don’t think she wants to do that. It doesn’t make sense unless you come together lovingly. Or at least have an understanding. It can be an understanding, that’s fine. But I don’t think she does want to. So therefore I’m going on with my life. I look at it like this, especially with this pandemic: Who knows when the end may come. And at 76 and a half years old I’m not going to sit around waiting for something. As my mother used to say, don’t cry over spilled milk. I have too much to live for now and be happy about.”
After Wilson’s passing, Motown Records founder Berry Gordy said in a statement to THR, “I was extremely shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of a major member of the Motown family, Mary Wilson of the Supremes. 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.”
He continued: “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.”
Early Tuesday morning, Ross took to Twitter to say that she woke up to the news of Wilson’s passing and offered her condolences to the fellow legendary singer’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,” she wrote, in part.
See more social media reactions and tributes to Wilson, below.
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
I am deeply saddened by the passing of the beautiful Mary Wilson! She was a legend and an icon and what she contributed to the world cannot be overstated. I send my deepest condolences and prayers to her family, loved ones and fans. ❤ pic.twitter.com/NBNZ6d8qmO
— Patti LaBelle (@MsPattiPatti) February 9, 2021
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. So full of life & great stories. Absolutely shocked. Rest In Supreme Peace Mary. https://t.co/E9CmwF1Hum
— Paul Stanley (@PaulStanleyLive) February 9, 2021
RIP Mary Wilson. Legendary founding member of the Supremes and fantastic solo artist. I had a wonderful conversation with her just before the quarantine. She was full of energy and plans so this is shocking as well as tragic. Our love and condolences go to her family and friends.
— Stevie Van Zandt (@StevieVanZandt) February 9, 2021
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. pic.twitter.com/8S20RJZdwk
— Andy Cohen (@Andy) February 9, 2021
Founding member of MOTOWN’s Supremes, whose songs lifted so many of us up, in an era when we were reaching for a voice of our own in an unwelcoming world.
Mary Wilson, RIP (1944-2021) pic.twitter.com/BFZk7L6oYB
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) February 9, 2021
— La Toya Jackson (@latoyajackson) February 9, 2021
A true legend. Rest in Peace Mary Wilson 🙏🏾❤️
— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) February 9, 2021
RIP Mary Wilson! Godspeed 💛 pic.twitter.com/An5bPm8nkR
— Viola Davis (@violadavis) February 9, 2021
Thank you Ms Mary Wilson for showing us all how to be Supreme. pic.twitter.com/MipmhQaTr4
— Janet Mock (@janetmock) February 9, 2021
A Loved Supreme. Goodbye Mary Wilson…The Dreamgirl. https://t.co/CEl2tP9laS
— B.R.O.theR. ?uestion (@questlove) February 9, 2021
Meeting her was a life highlight. I can’t believe that our icons are leaving.💔 pic.twitter.com/mnHU0QL3Ex
— yvette nicole brown (@YNB) February 9, 2021
— Yolonda Ross (@YolondaRoss) February 9, 2021
— AprilDRyan (@AprilDRyan) February 9, 2021
Mary Wilson along with Florence Ballard and Diana Ross changed the game permanently. Hit after hit after hit, on regular rotation to this day. A Supreme Titan may have left us but that legacy will never be surpassed. Rest in power #MaryWilson ❤️ https://t.co/q54gUFLmcl pic.twitter.com/li8ndoy7yx
— Beverley Knight💙 (@Beverleyknight) February 9, 2021
This is so hard to believe. She paved the way for so many like myself. I am grateful to have had the chance to know and work with her. Style, grace, talent was and is #MaryWilson. Thank you for everything you gave this industry. Rest well Queen🙏🏾🙏🏾🌹🌹💐💐🕊🕊 #Motown pic.twitter.com/1yyvk8dskr
— Stephanie Mills (@PrettyMill1) February 9, 2021
What an blessing to have had the Supreme Mary Wilson on #thereal.. I was over the moon to meet her, she grew up in the same Detroit Projects as I and she showed me that I could make it out. Talented and beautiful.. She will be missed. RIP pic.twitter.com/7Bb3o3Xn8b
— Loni Love (@LoniLove) February 9, 2021
Mary Wilson brought so much love to @TamronHallShow and to her fans when she stopped by the studio. I’m grateful for this moment because it captures how she lived her life ..Supreme Joy. pic.twitter.com/QXdPVdF0lY
— Tamron Hall (@tamronhall) February 9, 2021
— Robin Roberts (@RobinRoberts) February 9, 2021
— Ginger Zee (@Ginger_Zee) February 9, 2021