CBS reports that Lesley Gore, the singer and songwriter who scored a string of enormous hits in the early ’60s and who helped define the way that melodramatic teenage pop could sound, has died. Her longtime partner confirmed that she passed away from cancer at Manhattan’s New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She was 68.
Gore was born Lesley Sue Goldstein in New York, and she was raised in New Jersey. When she was a teenager, producer Quincey Jones discovered her, and they recorded the 1963 single “It’s My Party” together. The song went to #1 in the summer of 1963, and Gore followed it with hit after hit, going all the way into the late ’60s. 1963’s “You Don’t Own Me,” one of the greatest feminist pop songs of all time, spent weeks at #2 with only the Beatles’ “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” keeping it from the top spot. She also scored with “She’s A Fool,” “Judy’s Turn To Cry,” and “Sunshine, Lollipops & Rainbows.” She appeared in movies like Ski Party and The Girls On The Beach and on the TV show Batman, where she played a character named Pussycat and lip-synced her song “California Nights.” Through that whole run, she maintained some semblance of a normal life, graduating from Sarah Lawrence in 1968 after studying English and American literature.
Later, she’d continue to tour and perform. She got an Academy Award nomination for composing songs for the 1980 musical Fame. In 2005, she publicly came out as gay and began hosting the PBS series In The Life. She released Ever Since, her final album, in 2005.
Below, watch some clips of Gore singing her songs.