Openly lesbian ’60s singer/songwriter Lesley Gore has died

Posted on 16 Feb 2015 at 4:10pm

Lesley Gore

Lesley Gore now (top) and then

Singer-songwriter Lesley Gore — who topped the charts in 1963 with her epic song of teenage angst, “It’s My Party,” and followed it up with the hits “Judy’s Turn to Cry” and “You Don’t Own Me” — died Monday, Feb. 16, at the age of 68.

Gore died of cancer at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan, according to her partner of 33 years, jewelry designer Lois Sasson.

Gore was still in high school when she was discovered by Quincy Jones and hit it big with “It’s My Party.” And although she was perhaps best known for her hit songs in the ’60s, her career spanned decades. She and her brother were nominated for an Academy Award for “Out Here On My Own,” a song they wrote for the 1980 movie Fame. In 2005, she released Ever Since, her first album of new material since 1976. The album received widespread critical acclaim and songs from it were used in several TV shows and movies.

Beginning in 2004, Gore began hosting the show In The Life, a PBS series on LGBT issues. In 2005, she came out publicly as a lesbian. She and Sasson had already been a couple for 23 years at the time. In 2010, Gore sang with The Women’s Chorus of Dallas. She told Dallas Voice at the time, “”My life has always been backwards from everyone else’s. If you told me at 16 that I’d be saying this at 63, I’d have said you’re crazy. There’s always a flurry of what people find titillating.”

Gore played Catwoman’s sidekick in the 1960s TV show Batman, and in the 1990s, she appeared on Broadway in Smokey Joe’s Cafe. She was working on a stage version of her life when she died.

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