My next chanteuse is Lesley Gore, who had a #1 hit with “It’s My Party” in 1966, when she was just sixteen and a junior at the Dwight School for Girls in Englewood, New Jersey. She also appeared as an actress in a number of films and was a songwriter who, working with her brother Michael, wrote the song “Out Here On My Own” for the movie Fame. It was nominated for an Academy award, but she lost out to her brother, who had written the theme song.
Lesley’s most successful single after “It’s My Party” was “You Don’t Own Me,” also her second-highest charting single (#2 on the Hot 100 and the Cash Box survey) and her last Top Ten single. It was written by John Madara and Dave White, Philadelphia songwriters. Lesley was just seventeen years old when she recorded this.
“California Nights,” written by Marvin Hamlisch and Howard Liebling, was Lesley’s last Top Twenty single, reaching #16 on the Hot 100 and #11 on the Cash Box survey in 1967. She appeared on an episode of Batman early that year as “Pussycat,” one of Catwoman’s underlings, and lip-synched this to several of her fellow underlings. (Speaking of Catwoman, today is Julie Newmar’s birthday.)
In 2005, in an interview for the website After Ellen, Lesley said that she was a lesbian who had been in a relationship with jewelry designer Lois Sasson since 1982. She was a host for In The Life, a PBS show focusing on LGBT issues, starting in 2004. She died a year ago February of lung cancer at the age of 68. There had been a website, LesleyGore.com, but when I went to it today, I found a gray page with a message “This website is for sale.”
Lesley Gore, your Two for Tuesday, August 16, 2016.