The Supremes acted together just one time on a TV show, and it was Tarzan, of all places
R.I.P. Mary Wilson, who passed away at the age of 76 on February 8.
Following the death of Mary Wilson earlier this week, we have been fondly reminiscing about the Supremes. Diana Ross often gets the bulk of the spotlight, but Mary Wilson was an indelible part of the Motown sound. The ultimate girl group, the Supremes were also the most successful vocal group in American history. Next to the Beatles, no Sixties act shaped the sound of pop music more.
Thus, the band would appear all over television. Like the Fab Four, the trio frequently visited The Ed Sullivan Show, making 14 appearances between 1964–70. At the peak of their fame, the Supremes also lit up the screen on hip music-and-dance programs like Shivaree, Hullabaloo, Shindig! and Ready, Steady, Go!
But there was just one scripted television series that landed the complete Supremes as guest stars. And it was Tarzan, believe it or not. "The Convert," a 1968 episode of the Ron Ely iteration of the Ape Man, also happened to feature a young James Earl Jones in one of his earliest roles.
Ross, Wilson and Cindy Birdsong portrayed nuns — Sisters Therese, Martha and Ann, respectively. (You can see them above, from right to left.) In the story, the nuns travel to the ancestral home of one of the sisters. Naturally, the threesome sang a religious hymn together.
An article in Jet magazine from early 1968 reported, "During the filming, which took place at Los Estacos, Mexico, Berry Gordy Jr., president and founder of Motown Records Corporation in Detroit, was on location and assisted the program's regular director in working out scenes with the three young women."
The piece also pointed out that the Supremes performed their own stunts — "the daring young trio did [an underwater rescue scene] all by themselves."