Ten facts about Lesley Gore:
1. Today is her birthday. Like me, she was born in Brooklyn, New York. Back then she was Lesley Sue Goldstein. Like me, she was raised in Bergen County, New Jersey – she in Tenafly, me in Englewood Cliffs. Like me, she went to high school in Englewood, New Jersey – she at the Dwight School for Girls, me at Dwight Morrow High, which was not a school for girls.
2. Quincy Jones produced all of Gore’s charted singles between 1963 and 1965, including the top ten hits “It’s My Party,” “Judy’s Turn to Cry,” “She’s a Fool” and “You Don’t Own Me.”
3. Jones recorded Gore performing a song written by his dentist’s nephew. The song is “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows;” the nephew is Marvin Hamlisch. The record reached #13 on the pop charts, becoming the first hit for songwriter Hamlisch, who also composed Gore’s “California Nights,” a top twenty single in 1967.
4. “California Nights” is one of the songs Gore performed in 1967 on the television series Batman, on which she portrayed Pussycat, one of Catwoman’s minions.
5. She was given first dibs at recording “A Groovy Kind of Love,” but an executive at her record company turned it down, as he didn’t want Gore to sing the word “groovy.” The song became a #2 smash for The Mindbenders in 1966 and a #1 for Phil Collins in 1988.
6. While having hit records, Lesley stayed in school. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in American Literature from Sarah Lawrence College.
7. In a conversation with k.d. lang published in Ms. magazine, Gore said she never received a gold record for “You Don’t Own Me,” though the song’s two male writers, John Madara and Dave White, did. That shit ain’t right.
8. She received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song for “Out Here on My Own,” which she wrote with her brother Michael. She considered the song a sequel to “You Don’t Own Me.” “Out Here on My Own” was written for the movie Fame, whose theme song won the Oscar. “Fame” was written by Michael Gore and Dean Pitchford.
9. Lesley co-wrote a song for the 1996 film Grace of My Heart. In the movie, the song, “My Secret Love,” is performed a closeted young lesbian singer character with a flip, portrayed by Bridget Fonda. Gore was not invited to the film’s premiere. That shit ain’t right.
10. Gore came out as a lesbian in 2005, the year she released Ever Since, her first album in thirty years and her final album release. She was with her partner, Lois Sasson, from 1982 until Gore’s death in February of this year.
Here are Lesley Gore’s nineteen charted singles, plus her rendition of her Oscar-nominated tune.
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