Mary Wilson shares ‘Reflections’ of The Supremes’ 50th

A PAINTING OF THE SUPREMES is visible in the reflection in this photo of Mary Wilson, who was the only constant member of the group. Photo by Ian Wright

By Ian Wright and Lauren Wright

2010 marks my 50th anniversary photographing and interviewing virtually every major celebrity, political figure and royal in the world. Over the span of years, I’ve learnt many lessons about the right way to deal with the rich and famous. First and foremost — “Never be in awe of them.” For some inexplicable reason, celebrities are far more comfortable if you treat them like an ordinary person. Give them the slightest sense that you’re in awe and you will completely lose control of the interview or photo shoot. My first experience with a diva was when I was only 16, photographing Ella Fitzgerald. After cooling my heels backstage for what seemed an eternity, I was finally ushered into the presence. Miss Fitzgerald, snapped imperiously. “You have one minute to take one picture.” I felt like an annoying mosquito buzzing about her person. I reminded my wife, Lauren, of this as we drove to interview Mary Wilson about her latest CD and the 50th anniversary of The Supremes. You see, Lauren grew up in Detroit in the 1960s, idolizing

The Supremes and Miss Wilson in particular. Of all the countless famous people we’ve encountered, Lauren has retained her equanimity and remained nonplussed, always maintaining she stands in awe of only three people: The Queen, Barbra Streisand and Mary Wilson.

With this fact in mind, it was with some trepidation that I rang the doorbell of Mary Wilson’s large but elegantly understated house overlooking a private golf course near Las Vegas.

Lauren sniffed, “This is a far cry from the Brewster Projects where Mary grew up in Detroit, but I was expecting something more spectacular.”

I asked, “Were you expecting sequined walls?”

We were ushered through an entry hall where stacks of matching suitcases stood against a wall sagging under the weight of framed gold records. I wondered if Miss Wilson had just returned from a trip or is just about to leave. Past a staircase curving into the upper distance, we were seated in the comfortable dark walled living room where we waited for an hour — ample time to take in the enormous ethereal painting of The Supremes over the mantelpiece, another large unframed canvas of Diana Ross propped against the black lacquered grand piano, a vast gilt framed mirror and more suitcases. Lauren had a sort of Alice-through-the-looking-glass look in her eyes, much the same as worshipers I’d once photographed at a shrine in India — I began to worry!

Mary Wilson's Supremes painting

Also, I was getting a bit miffed at being kept waiting, remembering the last time a subject kept me waiting so long; Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzeziński, said his official portraits made him look like the commandant at a concentration camp so the White House invited me to take Brzezinski’s portrait for the Sunday Times of London. Brzezinski, arrived an hour late,

“Oh, f**k, I hope this isn’t going to take too long, I’ve got a speech to make on Capitol Hill in ten minutes.” he barked.

During that period, The Sunday Times was considered the best newspaper in the world, and even the Queen never kept the Times waiting. I bristled, “Do you realize I have just flown from London at your invitation?”

Knowing it was impossible to take a decent portrait of a man like Brzezinski in 10 minutes, I told my lighting crew, “Right, lads, break down all the lights — pack everything in the boxes, I think Mr. Brzezinski is going to be 10 minutes early for his speech.” I admit to being just that little bit worried when returning to the Time’s New York office without the pictures of Brzezinski, but bureau chief Bob Ducas — ever a gentleman, said, “You did quite right. Who do these buggers think they are?”

25 thoughts on “Mary Wilson shares ‘Reflections’ of The Supremes’ 50th

  1. The article is great, but having spent time with Mary over a 30-year period, I have not found her to be self-centered or humorless.

  2. She is a legend in her own mind. I appreciate that the author was not deterred or overrun or distracted by her obvious self-promotion and continuous reinvention of past years. There is no shame to her game.

  3. I have been to many of Ms Wilson concerts and backstage with her. And she has always been real and down to earth, not this person you have painted.She has not forgotten her roots and where she comes from.This woman was told, she could not sing.Well singing all her life has paid off,she has become a real soul singing sister. Keep up the good work Ms Wilson and get your new CD OUT THE WORLD IS READY…Peace

  4. enjoyed the story then the real Mary wilson as to have a gripe at D ana ross its the same OLD SONG she needs to get over it

  5. Keep telling the same 50 year old stories about “Diane” and trust me, you’ll never get that reunion with her that you claim you want so bad. Why should she reunite with you??? You get the press you love so much rehashing 40 – 50 year old tales. Every time I read an interview with her, she’s dreamed up some new versions of the old stories. This time, she’s the one that introduced “Diane” into the group? Excuse me honey, every other party involved has said that Paul Williams, of the Primes then the Tempations, brought Diana Ross into the group. You need to go check those journals you kept. Such a wealth of material, she’s even admitted she had to under go hypnotism before writing her 1st book in order to remember things. That should tell us everything we need to know.

  6. Mary Wilson always seems to be stuck in the past. Look at her songs. Can she do anything without it relating to Diana Ross? Its time to move on. The sixties are done. Get over it.

  7. Doesn’t this woman have a life beyond what happened over 40 years ago? It must be hard for her to accept that she has no other claim to fame then her association with Diana Ross. Like Dana wrote, even her songs are about her. Obsessed much. MOVE ON!

  8. I really hope that Mary Wilson is not that bitter woman that this article depicts. I am 58 and grew up on The Supremes’ music and ideally, I would love to see Diana, Mary and Cindy reunite. But given what I’ve seen and heard, I would advise against it.
    All I keep thinking about is that in 1970, Mary Wilson became responsible for The Supremes. You can’t blame Diana Ross for the stupid mistakes that were made or the eventual demise of the group which, by the mid 70’s was really starting to sound good again.

  9. This woman is a total waste of time & space, she is about to go bankrupt again for the second time, trying to be Diana Ross can be costly, especially when you have NO TALENT.

    Give it up Mary, you have milked it dry, You were a background singer FOR A DIVA, never one yourself!

  10. The article portrays Mary as a very negative, almost mean-spirited woman, and according to the author, “a diva of the first order.” She is none of those things. She is quite the opposite in fact – not a diva at all, but a very kind, down-to-earth person who is a very old soul with a big heart. And I hope she gets to write at least one more of the three books Eddie Holland says is still in her. She’s an outstanding woman who cultivated her talent. I don’t call that being a diva, I call that being remarkable.

  11. Thank you George you spoke the truth about Ms Wilson, This article is not Ms Wilson at all. If you really Read this article it seems the writer started off with a negative story, when they rang Ms Wilson door bell, than enterd her home and just were not kind to her at all. It sadden me to read all this hate fron fans. These Wilson haters must learn to RESPECT both of these talented women, both women are in there 60’s,and both are doing well today. Mary Wilson is here to stay, she is singing today with Great power,emotion and range, and singing all over the world, she got this work on her own, and with no help from Ms Ross, Ms Wilson has done this on her own. So I say MS Wilson ,MS Ross keep up the good work. Some fans love you both with out the hate…..Peace

  12. Well, Mary Wilson speaks again. I’m amazed still how she continues to rehash the past about “Diane”. And really who can blame her? Her only true success had been as a backup singer to a group led by Diana Ross and/or writing about her good “friend”.

    Really Mary, why would anybody be interested in hearing your CD unless it had any reference to Diana Ross, a true Diva, be the way.

  13. WHAT A BITTER, NO TALENT WOMAN! MARY HAS NO TALENT WHATSOEVER. IF SHE DID, WHY HAS SHE BEEN A TOTAL FLOP AND NEVER HAD A HIT RECORD HERSELF THE PAST 40 YEARS. SHE’S A VICTIMIZING WOMAN AND PEOPLE HAVE NO IDEA WHO SHE IS, UNLESS SHE CAN BASH ROSS. GET OVER YOUR JEALOUSY ALL READY!!!! SHE WANTS TO BE DIANA ROSS AND SHE ISN’T!!!!! DEAL!

  14. MARY NEEDS TO GET OVER HER JEALOUSY OF DIANA ROSS!!!! IT’S PATHETIC!!! SHE NEEDS TO GET A LIFE OF HER OWN!

  15. Please tell Lauren I have the best picture of Mary Wilson Ever ! I cut it down to save copywrite but I’m sure this one should be placed in the vaults !! Hope you like it,view best at Bustin Mindsweeper on face book..or my channel; SOULXCHANGE onY-Tube or FB.

  16. It’s the same old fight between Mary’s fans and the ‘Rossers’
    Does mary have talent-Definitely Yes
    Can she sing- Definitely. Maybe not for the old Supremes’ songs
    her forte is blues jazz and slow R&B
    Do people get sick of The Supremes rehashing,etc-Yes, Mary you have so much to offer outside of the Supremes but it is also her legacy as co-founder with Flo
    Mary thank you, you arealways loved by me.

  17. Not that simple Rich.

    I have as many top 10 singles as Miss Mary, & I’ve never seen a recording studio, I guess I’m more talented than I’ll ever know.

    This is about 15 minutes of Fame, that ended 14 minutes ago.

    It’s about a woman that feels “ENTITLED” to a status aquired by another. Something Miss Wilson hasn’t earned.

    She is both Manipulative & Duplicitous, She stabs a woman in the back, that offered her 4 MILLION Dollars to sing Oooh Baby Baby @ 30 shows!

    Also Diana Ross made sure that niether of the Girls would be expected to cover ANY of the tour costs, (She & The Promter would cover those).

    I can not think of any other Obscure Background singer that has recieved as much press as Miss Mary.

    Her Secret?, Just keep stabbing Diana Ross in the back, Works every time.

    Let us not forget, it was Diana Ross that lent her the Money to buy a house in ther early 80″s, (To keep her Homeless ass off the street).

    She repayed her with a nasty Back Stabbing Book. She made a Million Dollars & snorted most of it up her nose.

    She lives of the crumbs dropped from Diana’s Table & resents the hell out of her @ the same time.

    But when someone does the same to her, she goes POSTAL!, I am refferring to Kaaren Raglands “Sounds of The Supremes” Tribute .

    Miss Mary had Kaarens ass in court faster than a New York Minute.

    Bitterness, Regrets & Memories is all Mary Wilson Has

  18. Mary Wilson is the Supreme Supreme! Ross was the lead singer and yes she is multi-talented but lets remember the Supremes were a unit!
    Mary is a press hound but she is not mean and bitter I dont blame her for getting all of the news she can on herself Miss Ross did it as well. I say GO Mary!

  19. I guess because she wouldn’t sleep with Berry Gordy that makes her to be someone without talent. I saw her in concert. She was great!

  20. as a lifelong fan of The Supremes, i appreciate whatever Miss Wilson has to offer in the way of Supreme history – now and forever!!!

  21. THE SUPREMES are International Celebrities and fascinating to all. I am so influenced by the Supremest that I write about them with my I WAS THERE”,EXPERIENCE. I am still awed by the on going life story of the girls. Don’t forget your copy of:THE SUPREMES AT THE COPA-the Expanded Edition, realeased in May 2012. Look my GOOGLE PAGE UP for equally insightful reviews of the original catalog albums and CDs/ collectables its time to give the fans a piece of rare Supremes

  22. I think anyone who disrespects MARY WILSON doesnt like the Supremes, and the great legacy that is living even now. Mary Wilson is a SUPREME spokesman for the ongoing Motown and its rise with the SUPREMES at the front . If you dont like her remember if she wasnt part of the very different persons which with Florence, and Diane, MOTOWN , The Supremes ,music as it is could never exist W/o MARY WILSON, and her sometimes funny, naratives. Dont hate, students.ASK ANY GIRL….

  23. mary wilson you had more right to live your life as miss ross.she got rich off flos back and yours I do not care who slept with who.I am speaking talent here.You are a true legacy.I am 61 yrs old I was there ,a little blk girl in front of an old blk and white tv the very night all three of you came on tv the ED Sullivin show. Oh how proud we blk. folks were.I will take it to my grave.What love we felt for you flo and diana.If I knew what I know now;that history would play out like this Lord have mercy I would be writing a book to.THE SECOND THING I will never forget at around age 16.Miss florence Ballad is on WELFARE.Yes fans I was alive and well I too am a part of History.Not famous thank God.Why?Well very few Motown people are alive.Most didnot die a descent death.Most died either from drugs or self inflicted wounds.I call it the motown curse myself.So instead of hating on Mary and Diana.Be happy they are even alive stop the hate.These women took much abuse to be where they are today.Mary can sing in a key set for her.Anyone born in my time period know what I am talking about.Stop acting like the white man taught us in the day. Hate on us.But love the maser.No one in HISTORY has been more hated than the blk man and no group in History hate each other like the Supremes.I love all races but look at the beatles,most looked out for each other.We surely eat our own.Stop the sorry slave act.I saw the abuse of the south.Give them respect.We all pay in the in.Be happy that Mary even survied.She almost didn’t if it had not been for her Strong Determination.Surely her life would have been as tragic as Miss Flo. So give the girl a Hand.Berry is the one you could blame because he meant to kill her dreams as he did Flo.I get so sad and angry how that man did the funk brothers and many others.So guys you can not come close to understanding the panaroma the BIG PICTURE.We now know more of what happened do to books about motown.Now that I look bacK;I see what happened so many gaps have been filled since I was around I understand better now.I know aboutMiss Ross her three girls in life magazine.So her daughter by Berry all fits.So books written just confirms what facts some of us know.Plus I have family in LA who know where some the skeltons are hidden.So if you hate Mary for her book.Older ones are happy because all the little pieces now fit together.UNDERSTAND?Miss Ross drama is not all lies trust me I know plenty now.Yes I am thankful.Some people throw a rock and hide their hands.I appreciate the exposure.Mary is kind and loving she loves her fans and her family.Good or bad.Hate as you please but Miss Wilson rose above the odds shes alive and not broke like some ended up in Berrys kitchen or better known in Hitsvilles”~=sSnake pit”Buy Standing in the shadows of motown”.Then tell me who you blame for Motown’s demise.Miss Wilson or Berry.

  24. Thank God Mary Wilson is alive and well unlike Flo who was railed roaded out of her royaltys and singing career.Good or bad she is a living witness to so many things thanks to the comment by dimaflo68.I agree with you 100%.We can all make an informed decision.I was there when they first appeared on the Ed Sullivan show.We were so proud of them.Mary is a suvialist.She rose above ALL odds heres to you Mary.You have had your fianal wows to bare most have. They say you rode on Dianas skirt tail.I say you road together.Many forget there were Three supremes not one.They Rose together.But when Greed reigns King Like king Cotton in the south.That opens up a new bag of worms.The pain and stress of motowm mess could kill anyone. You had to be very very strong to surive plus a little luck wouldn’t hurt few did surive. Motowns body count is to large to bare.The sign Berry Gorgy left on Hitsvilles door should have read:BEWARE MOTOXiN MOTOWN can be DANGERS to your health.DID ANYONE DIE a DESENT Natural death besides Teena Marie. and its questionable in my book.She called her daughter said something and boom dead.One guy posted: Is motown a living curse?You only have the bodies to answer .Trust me there are far too many to count.Mary and Diana are good to be alive espically Mary.Over half of Mo is dead. How we envy that is beyoung me.T-Boy Ross Diana Ross bro. murdered.and Chico.?Yes where is Chico?L
    last I read he was druging.Diana most beloved bro. in the day.He stated its sad to be famous for only being famous of someone famous.He to is a lost soul.Her Brothers were number one failures so thats why I say Mary is good to have kicked her demons are she surely would have ended up like Diana’s bros.and Flo.and the rest.mary I say Hats to you baby.At least you are alive to tell us some of what went on at Motown.you opened the door for many to get up the nerve to face DXB.

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