Walkin' In The Sand
For Mary Ann Ganser and the Shangri-Las
It Will Never Happen Again
The Shangri-Las: sisters Mary and Elizabeth (Betty) Weiss,
and twins Mary Ann Ganser and Marguerite (Marge) Ganser

The Shangri-Las' Mary Ann Ganser on the Web    

            Anyone with more than a passing interest in googling the Shangri-Las will soon notice there is some disagreement over the cause and date of Mary Ann Ganser’s death. The majority of sites, if they mention it at all, say she died in 1971 of encephalitis contracted from a mosquito bite. Then there are the very few which attribute her death to drug abuse in 1970 . Clearly, somebody has to be wrong. While it would be easy to assume the majority is correct, that's not what I've discovered. The conclusions I come to are at odds with the majority of sites, apparently because those sites didn't expend much effort on verification. The information is out there and, though it takes a little persistence to find it, the search doesn't involve rocket science.

Theshangrilas.com1, John Greco's Out In the Streets2, Phil X. Milstein’s Shangri-Las 77!3 (see footnote 4 in the Shangri-Las 77! article), and The Dead Rock Stars Club4  all place Mary Ann's death in 1970. Most sites claim the cause of death was encephalitis, contracted from a mosquito bite. Shangri-Las 77! and The Dead Rock Stars Club state the cause was complications from an overdose of barbiturates. The sites at odds with this are too numerous to mention.

            There is a 2001 thread in Google Answers archives (and a 2003 follow up from the same poster), a careful reading of which will uncover the following: The poster said he managed to contact the Gansers’ mother, and “….she was very gracious & sent me Mary Ann's death papers and answered all my questions. Both twins were born Feb.4, 1948. Mary Ann died March 14,1970. When I mentioned a mosquito bite, she was taken aback. She said her daughter died of a barbiturate overdose. Her death papers confirmed she had battled heroin addiction for 2 yrs 5. Mary Ann wouldn’t be the first entertainer to succumb to the lure of a good high. Unfortunately she wound up playing the central role in a real-life tragedy, the needless death of a talented young woman.

            That Marguerite Ganser Dorste died July 28, 1996 of breast cancer has never been a point of contention. No sites that I visited mentioned her obituary6, which includes the statement, “Some of Mrs. Ganser Dorste's ashes were to be buried with her twin sister, who died in 1970.” I have yet to run across any information indicating Marge had more than one twin sister. That sister would be Mary Ann. Obituaries are written either by the family or by an obituary reporter working closely with the family. To say that 1970 is wrong is to say the family didn’t know when Mary Ann died. And that’s a bit of a stretch.


Mary Ann Ganser died of  a drug overdose on March 14, 1970. She was 22 years old.

And that's called ....sad.

References and Resources

1. The Shangri-Las  You’ll find a time line outlining when the various members were absent, a brief history, photos, lyrics, and some good links.

2. John Greco's Out In the Streets Red Bird bio, as comprehensive a biography as you’re likely to find.

3. Phil X. Milstein's Shangri-Las 77! at Spectropop.

      4. The Dead Rock Stars Club.

      5. Read it yourself at Google Answers. Another thread in Google Answers from 2003 from the same poster repeating his account of contact with the Gansers' mother can be found here about half way down the page.
      6. Marguerite Ganser Dorste’s obituary can be found here.

Interested in learning more about the Shangri-Las?  In addition to the above sources:

-    visit Spectropop’s forum archives at http://www.spectropop.com/ .

-    see Mick Patrick’s liner notes for the Myrmidons of Melodrama CD. The liner notes alone are worth the price.

-April 2006-
I first posted this in April 2006. Since then, Mary Weiss has returned to the recording studio, and Norton Records has posted an enlightening interview with her here. She answers many questions that fans had puzzled over for decades. She also leaves many questions unanswered - and apparently unasked by the interviewers - and leaves us with the hope that in future interviews she'll dispel the many myths which abound on the web about the group's members.

Heaven Only Knows

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