Born Lesley Sue Goldstein, in New York City, and raised in Tenafly, New Jersey, Leslie Gore was a junior at the Dwight School for Girls in nearby Englewood when "It's My Party" became a #1 hit. It was later nominated for a Grammy Award for rock and roll recording. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.
Gore's first hit was followed by many others, including "Judy's Turn to Cry" – the sequel to "It's My Party" – (U.S. #5), "She's a Fool," "You Don't Own Me" which held at #2 for four weeks behind The Beatles' "I Want To Hold Your Hand," "That's the Way Boys Are" (U.S. #12), "Maybe I Know" (U.S. #14/UK #20), "The Look of Love" (U.S. #27) and Grammy nominated for Contemporary Rock and Roll female vocal performance "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows" (U.S. #13, from the 1965 movie "Ski Party.")
Gore's record producer was Quincy Jones, who would later become one of the most famous producers in American music. "You Don't Own Me" also sold a million copies, and was awarded gold disc status.
Instead of accepting the television and movie contracts offered to her, Gore chose to attend Sarah Lawrence College in New York. This limited her public career to weekends and summer vacations. Still, throughout the mid 1960s Gore continued to be one of the most popular female singers in the United States and Canada.
Gore was given first shot at recording "A Groovy Kind of Love," but Shelby Singleton, a producer for Smash Records, a Mercury subsidiary, recommended that she not record a song with the word "groovy" in it. The Mindbenders went on to record the song, and it went to #2 on the Billboard charts. Gore also released "Wedding Bell Blues" as a single in 1969, but her version flopped while the 5th Dimension's spent three weeks at #1.
By the late 1960s, her popularity had decreased with the
advent of harder-edged psychedelic music. Her last major hit was the Bob Crewe-produced "California Nights" (U.S. #16), which she performed on both the January 19 and January 25, 1967, episodes of the Batman TV series, in which she guest-starred as Pussycat, one of Catwoman's minions.
Afterwards, she maintained a lower profile in the music industry, performing at concerts and in cabarets. She also kept busy writing songs, including composing songs for the soundtrack of the 1980 film Fame, for which she received an Academy Award nomination for "Out Here on My Own," written with her brother Michael. The song was a Top 20 hit for Irene Cara.
In addition to extensive national radio coverage and critical acclaim from The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Billboard Magazine, and other national press, three songs from Ever Since have been used in television shows and films: "Better Angels," in CSI: Miami's fourth season premiere episode, "Words We Don't Say," in an episode of The L Word, and
"It's Gone," in the Jeff Lipsky-directed film Flannel Pajamas.
In 2009, "Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows" was featured in the film Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. "Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows" was also used in The Simpsons episode "Marge on the Lam," for the Butlins Company TV advertisements in 2008 and for the Target Australia homewares TV advertisement in 2010.
Gore announced in 2005 that she is a lesbian. Beginning in 2004, Gore hosted the PBS television series In the Life, which focused on LGBT issues. Gore currently lives in Manhattan with her partner of more than 28 years.