Florence Ballard and The Supremes

FLORENCE BALLARD AND THE SUPREMES

FLORENCE BALLARD (LEFT)

FLORENCE BALLARD (RIGHT)

Florence Ballard: The Original Founder and Leader of The Supremes

As the 64th annual Golden Globes Awards unfolded on the evening of January 15th, Jennifer Hudson, a newcomer, won the award for Best Supporting Actress in a motion picture for playing a determined but less than svelte singer in Dreamgirls.  Bursting into tears during her acceptance speech, Ms. Hudson, who first gained notice on American Idol and had her first screen role in this film, told the audience that was filled with Hollywood’s top movie and television stars: “You don’t know how much this does for my confidence.  Because of this, it makes me feel like I’m part of a community, it makes me feel like an actress, and you don’t understand how much that feels good today.”

At the conclusion of her speech, Jennifer Hudson held up her Golden Globes Award and dedicated it to Florence Ballard.  Ms. Hudson’s character in Dreamgirls, Effie, is said to be based upon the life of Ballard.  Florence Ballard was the original founder and leader of The Supremes, but Motown Records mogul Berry Gordy soon replaced her, moving Diana Ross into the role of the lead singer.  Gordy believed that Ms. Ross was much more attractive than Ballard and would have a significantly greater “crossover” audience appeal.

Not long afterwards, Ms. Ballard was dismissed from the group, giving her last performance with The Supremes during their 1967 singing engagement at The Flamingo Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.  Ms. Ballard spent much of the last five years of her life in a state of abject poverty; she died in 1976 at the early age of thirty-two.  Jennifer Hudson honored Florence Ballard at the Globes ceremony as one of her heroines, speaking of her as “a lady who never got a fair chance.”

Florence Ballard: Yesterday

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14 Responses to “Florence Ballard and The Supremes”

  1. Dawn Says:

    What a wonderful tribute! It brought the history of Florence Ballard to life and brought tears to my eyes. Thank You.

  2. timethief Says:

    Thanks for telling me this poignant story. Obviously Florence didn’t get a fair break. It’s so sad she died at such a young age.

  3. disembedded Says:

    Hi Dawn and Timethief,

    Thanks for your comments. I’m glad that you enjoyed the article. Best wishes to you both!

  4. Rage Says:

    Hay thanks for the nice story and the pictures. I myself even though im quite of a youngster have always liked the supremes. It does bug me though that Flo had to leave, she is to my opion the prettiest from the three and the most sweet face ever…! Perhaps when we could require a timemachine, we could have warned.. her don’t you all agree.., love and peace..

  5. disembedded Says:

    Thanks for your comments, Rage. Unfortunately, it’s true that sometimes people aren’t truly appreciated until they’re gone. Best wishes to you!

  6. Vanessa Meira Says:

    Thanx!!!!!
    Perfect!!!

  7. EC Says:

    Thanks for this article. I am almost in tears to know this story is true and it really happened to Florence. Maybe not every detail, I think her story was worse, and where was Diana at, why didn’t she speak up? Well to late now can’t change the past, I just hate her appreciation is after she is gone. I’m sure her family was relieved to know someone remembered and cared. I sure do!

  8. Josh Says:

    Thank you so much disembedded for a wonderful article. When I read those words of “Jennifer Hudson held up her Golden Globes Award and dedicated it to Florence Ballard.”, I was in tears because I never knew something like this would ever happen. But now I know dreams do really come true. R.I.P. Florence Ballard.

  9. Tina G. Says:

    Lady Flo Will Always Be Supreme For She Will Always Be THe Leader Of The Supremes As i Remember Growing Up. Florence Ballard May You Rest In Peace
    Lov Tina

  10. Nikki Says:

    After watching Dreamgirls it really upset me how Effie was treated and then to find out this really happened in the group was terrible, but from what I heard Diana Ross was part of the cause for Florence’s depression I heard she was very cruel to her calling her fat and just being mean to her and other members of the group. I guess you just never know a person.. Shame on you Diana Ross if this is true…

  11. Shola Says:

    After watching the BET awards 07, I did some research into the whole supremes saga, as I haven’t watched dreamgirls. To know that Flo started up the group, was pushed out and Diana Ross put forward, really sadens me. There are a lot of issues that this portrays. Firstly, Flo is SOOOO much more beautiful and preetier than Diana Ross. The fact that Berry Gordy does what so many blacks do today, putting Ross in front so the group would be “acceptable to a wider audience” is part of what is messing up the black race. The whole ligther is better thing is absolute rubbish and needs to be seriously addressed. Diana Ross comes accross as very callous. I feel so bad for Flo, and wished it was all different. But everything happens for a reason and we must all learn and be better people. Let’s at least thank God that she was getting her life back on track before she died. She died on a positive note after all the negativity and that is what we should hold on to.
    P.S. (Don’t you all think its strange that Beyonce played Diana Ross’s character, as it’s quite similar to the whole destiny’s child saga, weird and eerie!)

  12. FrankO Says:

    Flo was great. Wish she didn’t get ripped off by Motown. They should have let her take some leads. They should’ve taken some turns shining, but whoever strokes the owners monkey the best wins…….in some ways, not all. We all know the truth. It might have taken awhile, but we all know that Flo was the driver there.

  13. jEANETTE Says:

    U MIGHT NOT BELIEVE ME BUT I HAVE A LADY NAME IN MY CHURCH N BETHAL BAPTIST CHURCH FLORENCE BALLARD NEICE GOES TO MY CHURCH ITS HONOR TO HAE HER AND ITS A HONEO FOR YOUR SISTER I WANT TO LET TO KOW EVERYBODY DAT PAYS A TRIBUTE TO THIS WOMEN THANK YOU

  14. queen Says:

    I love this woman( Florence Ballard)… I always wanted to know what happened to her. I am glad to know the history. Even dough, she’s not here. She’s in a better place, GOD wanted his angel right there with hom. GOD BLESS THE FAMILY..


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