This photograph is reproduced in Tony Fletcher’s All Hopped Up and Ready to Go, published in 2009.
The caption in the book reads:
The Shangri-Las, comprised of identical twins Margie and Mary-Ann Ganser, and sisters Liz (not shown) and Mary Weiss.
Fletcher conducted the remarkable interview with the Chantels’ Arlene Smith which I linked here. He seems like a conscientious journalist and historian and a nice man. I’d like him if that interview was the only thing he ever did and it’s on the basis of the impression it made that I just acquired his book (a history of New York’s street music scenes from 1927 to 1977), which I’m very much looking forward to reading.
You know how this goes.
Anyone who encounters this picture and caption in the state of pre-existing confusion I’ve written about periodically on my Shangri-Las’ page (accessible under SHANGRI-LAS FOREVER at the right), will have to assume that the (apparently-not-very-but-at-least-possible) “identical” Ganser twins mentioned here are the two girls on the right, and the girl on the left must, by process of elimination, be Mary Weiss.
Of course, the girl on the left is actually Marge or Mary Ann Ganser (I’m not sure which*), the girl in the middle is Liz Weiss (usually called Betty in the period when the picture was taken and definitely not “not shown”) and Mary Weiss, one of rock’s greatest voices, is on the right.
Mistaken captions are not the world’s most uncommon screw-up, of course, and very likely this one was not even Fletcher’s responsibility. It certainly isn’t going to color my anticipation of his book.
And it’s actually not the worst sin on the page where it appears, which has a photo of the Chantels with a caption that identifies Arlene Smith–quite possibly correctly but I can’t swear to it and why should I assume?–but does not name the other three girls, once more cloaking them–as they have been for half a century and counting–in needless anonymity.
I mean, how hard could it have been?
Apparently harder than misidentifying Liz Weiss as an “identical” Ganser twin.
Like I said….I’m not holding all this against anybody. Big project. Mistakes happen.
Funny, though, how these misidentifications of girl group singers generally–and the Shangri-Las in particular–keep cropping up, decade after decade.
It’s almost like we really, really don’t want to know.
(*UPDATE: Commenter Dazza B has identified the Ganser twin as Mary Ann. Much thanks!)