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Name at BirthLesley Sue Goldstein
BornMay 2, 1946
BirthplaceBrooklyn, New York City, New York, U.S.
DiedFebruary 16, 2015 (aged 68)
Place of deathManhattan, New York City, U.S.
Domestic partnerLois Sasson

Lesley Sue Gore (born Lesley Sue Goldstein; May 2, 1946 – February 16, 2015) was an American singer, songwriter, actress, and activist. At the age of 16, in 1963, she recorded the pop music hit "It's My Party", and followed it up with other hits including "Judy's Turn to Cry" and "You Don't Own Me".

Gore also worked as an actress and composed songs with her brother Michael Gore for the 1980 film Fame, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award.[1] She was active until 2014, and hosted an LGBT-oriented public television show, In the Life, on American TV in the 2000s.

Early life

Gore was born Lesley Sue Goldstein[2] in Brooklyn, New York City.[1] She was raised in Tenafly, New Jersey.[3] She was the daughter of Ronny and Leo Gore. Leo was the wealthy owner of Peter Pan, the children's swimwear and underwear manufacturer.[4] Her family was Jewish.[5] Gore was a junior at the Dwight School for Girls in nearby Englewood when "It's My Party" (produced by Quincy Jones) became a No. 1 hit. It was later nominated for a Grammy Award for rock and roll recording.[6] It sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc.[7]

1960s career

"It's My Party" was followed by many other hits for Gore, including the sequel "Judy's Turn to Cry" (US No. 5); "She's a Fool" (US No. 5); the protofeminist million-selling "You Don't Own Me",[7] which held at No. 2 for three weeks behind The Beatles' "I Want To Hold Your Hand"; "That's the Way Boys Are" (US No. 12); "Maybe I Know" (US No. 14/UK No. 20); "Look of Love" (US No. 27); and the Grammy nominated "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows" (US No. 13), from the 1965 movie Ski Party.[8] In 1965 she appeared in the beach party film The Girls on the Beach in which she performed three songs: "Leave Me Alone", "It's Gotta Be You", and "I Don't Want to Be a Loser".

Gore was given first shot at recording "A Groovy Kind of Love" by songwriters Carole Bayer and Toni Wine, with a melody from a sonatina by Muzio Clementi,[9] but Shelby Singleton, a producer for Mercury subsidiary Smash Records, refused to let Gore record a song with the word "groovy" in its lyrics.[8] The Mindbenders went on to record it, and it reached No. 2 on the Billboard charts.[10]

Gore recorded composer Marvin Hamlisch's first hit composition, "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows", on May 21, 1963 while "It's My Party" was climbing the charts.[8] Her record producer from 1963 to 1965 was Quincy Jones. Jones' dentist was Marvin Hamlisch's uncle, and Hamlisch asked his uncle to convey several songs to Jones.[8] "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows" was released on the LP Lesley Gore Sings of Mixed-Up Hearts but did not surface as a single until June 1965.[8] Hamlisch composed three other Gore associated songs: "California Nights",[11] "That's the Way the Ball Bounces" and "One by One". "That's the Way the Ball Bounces" was recorded September 21, 1963 at A&R Studios in New York; it was released as the B-side of "That's the Way Boys Are" and appeared on the LP Boys Boys Boys. "One by One" was an unreleased track recorded on July 31, 1969 in New York and produced by Paul Leka; it first appeared on the Bear Family five-CD anthology of Gore's Mercury work entitled It's My Party (1994).[1][8]

Gore was one of the featured performers in the T.A.M.I. Show concert film, which was recorded and released in 1964 by American International Pictures, and placed in the National Film Registry in 2006. Gore had one of the longest sets in the film, performing six songs including "It's My Party", "You Don't Own Me", and "Judy's Turn to Cry".[12]

Gore performed on two consecutive episodes of the Batman television series (January 19 and 25, 1967), in which she guest-starred as Pussycat, one of Catwoman's minions.[1] In the January 19 episode "That Darn Catwoman", she lip-synched to the Bob Crewe-produced "California Nights", and in the January 25 episode "Scat! Darn Catwoman" she lip-synched to "Maybe Now".[10] "California Nights", which Gore recorded for her 1967 album of the same name, returned her to the upper reaches of the Hot 100.[8] The single peaked at number 16 in March 1967 (14 weeks on the chart). It was her first top 40 hit since "My Town, My Guy and Me" in late 1965 and her first top 20 since "Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows".[1]

Gore also performed the single "We Know We're in Love" ten months earlier on the final episode of The Donna Reed Show, which aired on March 19, 1966.[8]

After high school, while continuing to make appearances as a singer, Gore attended Sarah Lawrence College, studying British and American English literature. At college, folk music was popularly lauded as 'chic' whereas pop music was often derided as 'uncool.'[1] "Had I been tall with blonde hair, had I been Mary Travers, I would have gotten along fine."[13] She graduated in 1968.[14][15]

Later career

Gore composed songs for the soundtrack of the 1980 film Fame, for which she received an Academy Award nomination for "Out Here on My Own", written with her brother Michael.[16] Michael won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for the theme song of the same film. Gore played concerts and appeared on television throughout the 1980s and 1990s.[8]

Gore co-wrote a song, "My Secret Love", for the 1996 film Grace of My Heart. The film includes a subplot about a young singer named Kelly Porter, who is based in part on Gore and is played by Bridget Fonda. The character, who is a closeted lesbian, performs "My Secret Love" in the film.[17][18]

In 2005 Gore recorded Ever Since (her first album of new material since Love Me By Name in 1976), with producer/songwriter Blake Morgan, for the small independent label Engine Company Records. The album gained favorable reviews from The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Billboard Magazine and other national press.[8]

Personal life

Beginning in 2004, Gore hosted the PBS television series In the Life, which focused on LGBT issues.[19] In a 2005 interview with After Ellen, she stated she was a lesbian and had been with her partner, luxury jewelry designer Lois Sasson, since 1982.[19][20]


Gore died of lung cancer on February 16, 2015, at the NYU Langone Medical Center in Manhattan, New York City; she was 68 years old.[21][22] Her New York Times obituary described her as a teenage and feminist anthemist.[23] Following her death, Neil Sedaka commented that she was "a phenomenal talent" and "a great songwriter in her own right."[23]

Her funeral was held on February 19, 2015, at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home in New York City.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Lesley Gore, who sang 'It’s My Party,' dead at 68. New York Daily Retrieved on February 16, 2015.
  2. Lesley Gore : Biography. Retrieved on June 29, 2014.
  3. Fine, Arlene. "It’s Lesley Gore’s party at Cain Park", Cleveland Jewish News, July 31, 2008. Accessed September 18, 2011."
  4. Laing, Dave. "Lesley Gore obituary", February 17, 2015. 
  6. Retro, Ricky. "It's her party, and it's Spector's turn to cry", The Star-Ledger, May 24, 2004.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs, 2nd, London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd, 159. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 8.8 8.9 'It's My Party' singer-songwriter Lesley Gore dies at 68. Retrieved on February 16, 2015.
  9. Clementi, Muzio. Sonatina, Opus 36, Number 5 [see movement III, Rondo, measures 1–12]
  10. 10.0 10.1 Hoekstra, Dave. "Our favorite Lesley Gore moments", Chicago Sun-Times, March 11, 2007. Accessed May 31, 2007.
  11. PBS "American Masters: Marvin Hamlisch" edition
  12. Vincent, Alice. "Lesley Gore: Nine things you didn't know". The Independent, February 17, 2015.
  13. David Tipmore. "It's My Comeback and I'll Try If I Want To", April 14, 1975, p. 126. Retrieved on June 24, 2014. 
  14. Patricia E. Davis, "Lesley Core In Comeback With Her College Degree", Pittsburgh Press, June 6, 1969.
  15. Jon Bream, "It's Lesley Gore's party", Star Tribune, January 10, 2010.
  16. Jones, Chad. "It's still her party, and Lesley Gore's not crying", Oakland Tribune, April 21, 2006. Accessed May 31, 2007.
  17. Glitz, Michael. "Singing Her Own Tune: Lesley Gore Is on Her Second Run of Celebrity-From the "It's My Party" Songbird of the '60S to the out Singer-Songwriter of 2005's Quietly Haunting Indie CD Ever Since." The Advocate, January 17, 2006. ("Gore could have been out more prominently in the mid '90s in connection with the movie Grace of My Heart, which included a subplot about a Gore-like teen idol (played by Bridget Fonda) who was gay. Gore worked on the character's song--'My Secret Love'--until she was comfortable having her name on it as a cowriter. But she felt wary that she'd been brought in too late for a real collaboration, and when she wasn't even invited to the premiere, Gore was convinced the filmmakers had used her primarily for publicity. 'It turned into the opposite of what I would have wanted,' she says."
  18. Childs, T. Mike. The Rocklopedia Fakebandica (St. Martin's Griffin, 2014), ISBN 978-1466873018, p. 167. Excerpts available at Google Books.
  19. 19.0 19.1 "Interview with Lesley Gore", After Ellen, June 3, 2005
  20. "Lesley Gore, the singer, dies aged 68"[1], February 17, 2015
  21. Lesley Gore Dead: ‘It’s My Party’ Singer-Songwriter Dies at 68 – Variety. Variety. Retrieved on February 16, 2015.
  22. ABC News. 'It's My Party' Singer-Songwriter Lesley Gore Dies at 68. ABC News. Retrieved on February 16, 2015.
  23. 23.0 23.1 "Lesley Gore, Singer of Teenage Anthems, Dies at 68" By The Associated Press February 16, 2015 New York Times

External links

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