Sat-Her-Day: Long Live Mary Wilson

Happy Sat-Her-Day ladies and gentlemen! Today I would like to celebrate the life of Mary Wilson, a co-founder of The Supremes who had a vibrant personality and many talents.

If you don’t know much about Wilson, I suggest you get to know her by watching her interviews, where she was never shy about speaking her mind. In 1986 she told Phil Donahue she wrote her best selling book Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme “because everyone has this feeling about Mary. That she’s a piece of cotton and just floats with the wind”. No cap, Mary was absolutely right.

The story of the Supremes has been written by multiple people, so when Mary published her side of the story in 1986 she confirmed what the public already knew: Motown wanted Diana Ross to be the focus of the group. The label ultimately changed their name from “The Supremes” to “Diana Ross and the Supremes,” but Mary Wilson was a part of all 12 of the group’s No. 1 singles. Plus, Mary started the group, so history should not reduce her to “a piece of cotton that floats in the wind.”

In 2006 the film Dreamgirls hit theaters, depicting the life story of The Supremes. The problem, though, is that it’s a fictional account, based off of a play written in 1981 by Henry Kreiger and Tom Even. Not only did Mary not see any money from the film, but she didn’t have any say in what was depicted in the play or the movie.

“Here’s my take on the whole thing: They want to do a musical, what better group to use than the Supremes, the biggest female group of the ’60s?” she says. “So they say, ‘Oh, that’s great! Let’s base it on the Supremes!’ Then they started writing and they just wrote a story.”

Mary Wilson to The Washington Post February 22, 2007

Many artists from the Motown era have biopics that they were involved creating, and Mary deserves that honor, even posthumously. In 2019 she stated she would love to see a biopic based off of her books, and I agree; there is so much of her life that we only know through her writing. Though she is no longer with us, I hope the film maker who decides to bring a true account of The Supremes brings to life every word she wrote, doing justice to the Mary we love in every interview.

Long Live Mary Wilson, who wasn’t just “a piece of cotton floating with the wind” but an author, an activist for creatives, and a musical legend.

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