Lesley Gore

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For the English footballer, see Les Gore.
Lesley Gore
Born Lesley Sue Goldstein
(1946-05-02)May 2, 1946
Brooklyn, New York City, New York, United States
Died February 16, 2015(2015-02-16) (aged 68)
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
Cause of death Lung cancer
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • actress
  • activist
Years active 1963–2014
Notable work "It's My Party" , "Judy's Turn to Cry" , "You Don't Own Me".
Net worth U.S. $5 million (2015 estimate)[1]
Partner(s) Lois Sasson
(1982–2015; Gore's death)
Parent(s) Leo Goldstein
Ronny Gore
Relatives Michael Gore (brother)
Alan Dean Foster (cousin)
Website lesleygore.com
Musical career
Instruments Vocals

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

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.[2] She hosted an LGBT-oriented public television show, In the Life, on American TV in the 2000s, and was active until 2014.

Early life[edit]

Gore was born Lesley Sue Goldstein[3] in Brooklyn, New York City[2] into a middle-class[dubious ] Jewish family, the daughter of Leo and Ronny Gore.[4] Her father was the owner of Peter Pan, a children's swimwear and underwear manufacturer,[4] and later became a leading brand licensing agent in the apparel industry.[5] She was raised in Tenafly, New Jersey[6] and was a junior at the Dwight School for Girls in nearby Englewood when "It's My Party" became a number one hit. The song was eventually nominated for a Grammy Award for rock and roll recording.[7] It sold over one million copies and was certified as a gold record.[8]


1963–1979: Commercial success[edit]

"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",[8] 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.[9] 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,[10] but Shelby Singleton, a producer for Mercury subsidiary Smash Records, refused to let Gore record a song with the word "groovy" in its lyrics.[9] The Mindbenders went on to record it, and it reached No. 2 on the Billboard charts.[11]

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.[9] 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.[9] "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.[9] Hamlisch composed three other Gore associated songs: "California Nights",[12] "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).[2][9]

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".[13]

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.[2] 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".[11] "California Nights", which Gore recorded for her 1967 album of the same name, returned her to the upper reaches of the Hot 100.[9] 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".[2]

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.[9]

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.'[2] "Had I been tall with blonde hair, had I been Mary Travers, I would have gotten along fine."[14] She graduated in 1968.[15][16]

1980–2015: Career as a composer and Ever Since[edit]

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.[17] 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.[9]

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.[18][19]

In 2005 Gore recorded Ever Since (her first album of new material since Love Me By Name in 1976), with producer/songwriter Blake Morgan, with the label Engine Company Records. The album received favorable reviews from The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Billboard Magazine and other national press.[9] The album also included a revised version of "You Don't Own Me", about which the New York Daily News wrote: "In Lesley Gore's new version of 'You Don't Own Me'—cut more than 40 years after its initial recording—she lends a pop classic new life."[20] Gore commented: "Without the loud backing track, I could wring more meaning from the lyric". And: "It's a song that takes on new meaning every time you sing it."[20]

Personal life[edit]

Beginning in 2004, Gore hosted the PBS television series In the Life, which focused on LGBT issues.[21] In a 2005 interview with After Ellen, she stated she was a lesbian and had been in a relationship with luxury jewelry designer Lois Sasson since 1982.[21] At the time of her death, the couple had been together for 33 years.[22] 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.[23][24] Her New York Times obituary described her as a teenage and feminist anthemist.[25] Following her death, Neil Sedaka commented that she was "a phenomenal talent" and "a great songwriter in her own right."[25]

Gore's funeral was held on February 19, 2015 in New York City.




Year Film Role Notes
1964 The T.A.M.I Show Herself Documentary
1968 The Pied Piper of Astroworld Bo Peep Television film
1977 Good Old Days Herself Television film
1985 Good Time Rock 'n' Roll Herself Television documentary
1986 Deja View Herself
1988 Legendary Ladies of Rock & Roll Herself Television special
1990 Listen Up: The Lives of Quincy Jones Herself Documentary
1991 Golden Age of Rock 'n' Roll Herself Television documentary
1992 In the Life Herself Television documentary
1998 Quincy Jones... The First 50 Years Herself Television documentary
2000 Hollywood Rocks the Movies: The Early Years (1955-1970 Herself Television documentary
2003 Rock at Fifty Herself Television documentary
2008 An Evening with Quincy Jones Herself Television documentary
2008 Airplay: The Rise and Fall of Rock Radio Herself Documentary


Year Name Role Notes
1963 The Keefe Brasselle Show Herself
Thank Your Lucky Stars Herself Recurring guest; 2 episodes
The Ed Sullivan Show Herself Recurring guest; 4 episodes
New American Bandstand 1965 Herself Recurring guest; 3 episodes
1964 The Beat Room Herself
1964 The Lloyd Thaxton Show Herself
1965 The Girls on the Beach Herself
1965 Ski Party Herself
1965 Fanfare Herself
1965 Shindig! Herself Recurring guest; 2 episodes
1965 Hollywood A Go-Go Herself
Hullabaloo Herself Recurring guest; 3 episodes
1966 The Donna Reed Show Herself Episode: "By-Line--Jeff Stone"
1966 Where the Action Is Herself
1966 The Andy Williams Show Herself
The Mike Douglas Show Herself Recurring guest; 3 episodes
1967 Batman Pussycat Recurring role; 2 episodes
1967 Dream Girl of '67 Herself Recurring role; 5 episodes
1967 Malibu U Herself
1967 Binnen en Buiten Herself
The Joey Bishop Show Herself Recurring guest; 3 episodes
Della Herself Recurring guest; 2 episodes
1970 Playboy After Dark Herself Recurring guest; 2 episodes
1970 The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson Herself
The Rolf Harris Show Herself Recurring guest; 2 episodes
1970 The David Frost Show Herself Recurring guest; 2 episodes
1971 The Virginia Graham Show Herself
1976 Dinah! Herself
1976 The Midnight Special Herself Guest Host
1977 Sha Na Na Herself
1970 Our Time Herself
1998 Murphy Brown Herself Episode: "Opus One"
2001 Walk on By: The Story of Popular Song Herself Episode: "Producer Pop"
2001 Biography Herself Episode: "Lesley Gore: 'It's Her Party'"
2002 Hollywood Squares Herself Recurring guest; 2 episodes
2005 Party Planner with David Tutera Herself Episode: "Broadway Legend's Soiree"
2007 TV Land Confidential Herself Episode: "Music"
Unknown Merv Griffin Show Herself
Unknown Club 1270 Herself A teen-oriented dance-party television show on WXYZ-TV in Detroit ("1270" was a reference to the frequency of WXYZ-AM radio,
a leading Top 40 station in the Detroit area at the time, now WXYT).
Unknown What's My Line? Herself
Unknown Days of Our Lives Unknown
1982/1983 All My Children June Gordan A music publicist for 6 episodes; performed the song "Easy to Say, Hard to Do" which was written for the show
Unknown Murphy Brown Unknown
Unknown A Capitol Fourth Unknown
Unknown Happening 68-69 Unknown
Unknown Where the Action Is Unknown
Unknown Gay USA Unknown


  1. ^ "Lesley Gore Net Worth". Celebrity Net Worth. 2015-08-11. Retrieved 2015-08-18. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Lesley Gore, who sang 'It’s My Party,' dead at 68". New York Daily News.com. Retrieved February 16, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Lesley Gore : Biography". Biography.com. Retrieved June 29, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Laing, Dave (February 17, 2015). "Lesley Gore obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved February 21, 2015.  "Daughter of Ronny and Leo, she was born Lesley Sue Goldstein into a middle-class Jewish family in New York City and grew up in Tenafly, New Jersey." Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Guardian" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  5. ^ Salmans, Sandra (May 24, 1981). "Finding the Products for Famous Names". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-03-07. 
  6. ^ Fine, Arlene. "It’s Lesley Gore’s party at Cain Park", Cleveland Jewish News, July 31, 2008. Accessed September 18, 2011."
  7. ^ Retro, Ricky. "It's her party, and it's Spector's turn to cry", The Star-Ledger, May 24, 2004.
  8. ^ a b Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 159. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "'It's My Party' singer-songwriter Lesley Gore dies at 68". MSN.com. Retrieved February 16, 2015. 
  10. ^ Clementi, Muzio. Sonatina, Opus 36, Number 5 [see movement III, Rondo, measures 1–12]
  11. ^ a b Hoekstra, Dave. "Our favorite Lesley Gore moments", Chicago Sun-Times, March 11, 2007. Accessed May 31, 2007.[dead link]
  12. ^ PBS "American Masters: Marvin Hamlisch" edition
  13. ^ Vincent, Alice. "Lesley Gore: Nine things you didn't know". The Independent, February 17, 2015.
  14. ^ David Tipmore (April 14, 1975). "It's My Comeback and I'll Try If I Want To". Village Voice. p. 126. Retrieved June 24, 2014. 
  15. ^ Patricia E. Davis, "Lesley Core In Comeback With Her College Degree", Pittsburgh Press, June 6, 1969.
  16. ^ Jon Bream, "It's Lesley Gore's party", Star Tribune, January 10, 2010.
  17. ^ Jones, Chad. "It's still her party, and Lesley Gore's not crying", Oakland Tribune, April 21, 2006. Accessed May 31, 2007.[dead link]
  18. ^ 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."
  19. ^ Childs, T. Mike. The Rocklopedia Fakebandica (St. Martin's Griffin, 2014), ISBN 978-1466873018, p. 167. Excerpts available at Google Books.
  20. ^ a b "IT’S HER PARTY... Early ’60s legend Lesley Gore cuts her first studio album in 30 years". NY Daily News. 2005-07-24. Retrieved 2015-08-18. 
  21. ^ a b "Interview with Lesley Gore", After Ellen, June 3, 2005
  22. ^ Furness, Hannah. "Lesley Gore, the singer, dies aged 68". Telegraph. Retrieved 2015-08-18. 
  23. ^ "Lesley Gore Dead: ‘It’s My Party’ Singer-Songwriter Dies at 68 – Variety". Variety. Retrieved February 16, 2015. 
  24. ^ ABC News. "'It's My Party' Singer-Songwriter Lesley Gore Dies at 68". ABC News. Retrieved February 16, 2015. 
  25. ^ a b "Lesley Gore, Singer of Teenage Anthems, Dies at 68" By The Associated Press February 16, 2015 The New York Times

External links[edit]