Singer Lesley Gore died at age 68 on February 16, 2015 from lung cancer, she was also a songwriter, actress and activist. Born on the 2nd of May 1946 she has lived a full life, at the age of 16 in 1963, she recorded the pop hit “It’s My Party” and then other hits including “Judy’s Turn to Cry”, “You Don’t Own Me”, and “California Nights”.
The 1963 feminist anthem hit No. 2 on the Billboard pop singles chart and still feels good today.
“When I heard that song at the age of 17,” Gore said in a 2005 interview, “it felt like a humanist song to me. I could see a guy singing that to a young woman as easily as I could see a young woman singing it to her boyfriend or her father.”
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.
Her father owned the Peter Pan swimsuit and underwear manufacturing company. As a child, she sang along to the latest hits in front of her bedroom mirror: “I slicked my hair back in a credible Elvis imitation,” she said.
After graduating college in the late Sixties and staying largely out of the spotlight throughout the Seventies, Gore resurfaced in 1980 when “Out Here On My Own,” a song she co-wrote with her brother Michael for the Fame soundtrack, was nominated for a Best Original Song Academy Award; Michael Gore would instead end up winning the Oscar for his song “Fame.”
In 2005, she released “Ever Since”, her first album in 30 years, but was sure to revisit older hits in front of fans.
“If I’ve learned anything in this business,” she told the New York Times that year, “how stupid would it be not to do It’s My Party when people come to hear it?” She officially came out to the public when she hosted several episodes of the PBS series, In the Life, which dealt with gay and lesbian issues.
Lesley’s death may have come on quick, but her memory will live on for years to come.
“She was writing the story of her life,” Lois tells ‘Closer’ about a new stage show she was working on. “She would want to be remembered for the music and the play she was writing.”
While she kept a low profile in later years, working behind the scenes as a composer of songs like Fame’s Oscar-nominated “Out Here on My Own” (co-written with her brother, Michael), Lesley had a major coming-out party in 2005 when she announced she was a lesbian.
In 2004, she became a presenter of In the Life, a Public Broadcasting Service programme devoted to LGBT issues.
This was a tacit acknowledgment of her lesbianism, which, she subsequently said, had been evident to those around her for many years, if not to a wider public.
In 2012, Gore adapted You Don’t Own Me for a feminist campaign to persuade women to vote in the US presidential election.