Lesley Sue Goldstein (May 2, 1946 – February 16, 2015), known professionally 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” (a US number one), and followed it up with other hits including “Judy’s Turn to Cry”, “She’s a Fool”, “You Don’t Own Me”, “Maybe I Know” 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. She hosted an LGBT-oriented public television show, In the Life, on American TV in the 2000s, and was active until 2014.
Beginning in 2004, Gore hosted the PBS television series In the Life, which focused on LGBT issues. 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. She had known since she was 20 and stated that although the music business was “totally homophobic,” she never felt she had to pretend she was straight. “I just kind of lived my life naturally and did what I wanted to do,” she said. “I didn’t avoid anything, I didn’t put it in anybody’s face.”
Gore had been working on a memoir and a Broadway show based on her life when she died of lung cancer on February 16, 2015, at the NYU Langone Medical Center in Manhattan, New York City, at the age of 68. At the time of her death, Gore and her partner, Lois Sasson, had been together for 33 years.
Her New York Times obituary stated that “with songs like ‘It’s My Party,’ ‘Judy’s Turn to Cry’ and the indelibly defiant 1964 single ‘You Don’t Own Me’ — all recorded before she was 18 — Gore made herself the voice of teenage girls aggrieved by fickle boyfriends, moving quickly from tearful self-pity to fierce self-assertion.”