There’s Aretha, Tina, Cher, Whitney, Mariah, Brandy, Celine, and, yes, even Sir Elton John. But who, in proverbial divadom, is the biggest and baddest of them all?
No, not Madonna.
Our vote this week goes to Diana Ross — hands down.
The above assessment is neither based on the singing legend’s career milestones, overall influence or sartorial outrageousness. Its conclusion has only to do with Miss Ross’s singular ability to do things that lesser divas (not to mention us mere mortals) likely wouldn’t get away with.
The latest example: The grand diva’s announcement Tuesday that she will hit the road this summer in a Supremes reunion tour — except without two of the trio’s famed members, Cindy Birdsong and Mary Wilson.
The Supremes snub is not the first, nor is it going to be the last, item on the singer’s attitude-copping resume. So without further ado, here’s a look at Miss Ross’s greatest diva hits:
9. “When Miss Ross Wants 350 of Something, Miss Ross’s Going to Get It” Two days before the taping of a recent “Oprah,” the diva reputedly rang up designer Bob Mackie and asked for 350 pairs of fuchsia satin gloves for the talk-show audience.
8. “She Touched Me First!” At London’s Heathrow Airport on Sept. 22, the diva was apparently so peeved by a routine luggage check and frisking that she retaliated by grabbing the female security’s breasts, leading to her arrest.
7. “Duh! It’s Not About the Songs But the Way She Looks” In 1999, Ross was asked to perform at the holiday party thrown by the PricewaterhouseCooper folks. According to reports, the diva changed outfits 11 times during her 90-minute show — that’s a new look every 8 minutes and 10 seconds for those too debilitated to think.
6. “After all, I Am The Supremes” According to legend, Ross grabbed the mike away from fellow Supremes sister Mary Wilson and shoved her aside during the famed “Motown 25” anniversary TV special in 1983.
5. Same as Above According to Tony Turner, who documented the Supremes history in the book “All That Glittered,” Ross forced the other customarily snubbed Supremes to change their gowns minutes before their performances (gasps!) so that they would have to endure the unfathomable humiliation of singing in mismatched nail polish (more gasps!).
4. Ditto In the 1989 biography “Call Her Miss Ross,” writer J. Randy Taraborrelli said that Ross had the tendency to hog the spotlight by covering the faces of the other Supremes by spreading her hands during TV appearances. Yes, this might be petty, but when it comes to divas, it’s the small things that count.
3. See No. 5 The evil stepmother acts continue. In Mary Wilson’s “Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme” memoir, the disillusioned Supreme charged that Ross insisted on her own dressing room, while Wilson and one-time member Florence Ballard (ousted from the group in 1967 to be replaced by Cindy Birdsong) had to share.
2. More of the Same In 1967, Ross unmistakably succeeded in distinguishing herself from the other members when Berry Gordy, founder of Motown Records and then-lover of Ross, renamed the band Diana Ross and the Supremes. Coincidence? Wilson thinks not.
1. “Even Michael Approves” Rumor has it that the diva was the inspiration for Michael Jackson’s (reputed) multiple plastic surgeries. Rumor also has it that during the early 1980s, the single-white-gloved singer made his drivers address him as, yes, “Miss Ross.”
How does Ross get away with it? She is loved. Even her curious twist to the usual “reunion” tour thing is unlikely to curb anticipation or sales for the Supremes summer tour.
Says Gary Bongiovanni, editor of the online concert magazine Pollstar (www.pollstar.com): “Well, Diana Ross has been a headliner in her own right ever since she left the Supremes. I don’t think she needs to work with the [original] Supremes [for the concert tour to be successful].”