Saturday, January 24, 2015

Calendar Clarification: The Ganser Twins

Inside The Rock Era has done mountains of research in our overhaul of Calendar*, which will be the #1 source for Rock Music History when we are completely done.  But we have never come across so much misinformation and debate about birthdays, birth years, places of birth, date of death, place of death, and cause of death.  And this case involves sisters.

Marguerite ("Margie", or "Marge") and Mary Ann Ganser were twin sisters in the great girl group the Shangri-Las.  It is sad that fans today debate the facts of their births and deaths rather than let them rest in peace.  Inside The Rock Era, as usual, has done extensive research on their birth and death records, and has reached a conclusive decision on both twins.

There is much dispute on the Internet regarding Marguerite's vital statistics.  The dates of February 2, 1947, February 8, 1948 and November 8, 1947 are all thrown around.  According to the book Encyclopedia of Dead Rock Stars by Jeremy Simmonds, Margie was born February 4, 1948 in Queens, New York.  Nick Talevski, in his book Rock Obituaries:  Knocking on Heaven's Door, agrees that the Ganser twins were born on February 4, 1948, but says that they were born in Oceanside (a census-designated place) on Long Island, and raised in Queens.  The Long Island newspaper Newsday confirms that Marguerite was in fact born in Oceanside.  Her place of death, on July 28, 1996 unfortunately is also disputed.  Some websites say she died in Valley Stream, New York, while others say she died in New York City.  Marguerite worked in Valley Stream, but she died at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx, according to The Associated Press.

Mary Ann's death is also shrouded in myth.  Some websites say that Mary Ann died in 1971, and most websites state that Mary Ann died of encephalitis from a mosquito bite, but according to the newspaper The Los Angeles Times, Mary Ann in fact died on March 14, 1970 from a drug overdose.  Further proof of the sisters' birthdays is shown from Mary Ann's gravestone at Saint Charles Cemetery in Farmingdale, New York.  While the birthday shown above confirms the information in the two books referred to above, and gravestones are nearly always final proof of vital statistics, in rare instances, the date of death can be wrong.  The shown date of March 16 was the date that Mr. Ganser identified Mary Ann's body, but according to the newspaper The New York Times, Mary Ann was found dead on Sunday, March 15, and an official Coroner's report showed that she died on March 14.    

One can only hope that these findings put an end to disrespectful speculation about dates and places, and the world instead focuses on their great music.

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