Lesley Gore, the singer-songwriter who scored a huge hit as a 16-year-old with "It's My Party" in 1963, has died at the age of 68. Gore, who grew up in New Jersey and was discovered by Quincy Jones, followed up the Grammy-nominated chart-topper with hits including "She's a Fool," "Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows," and "You Don't Own Me," which became a feminist anthem, reports the Los Angeles Times. Gore and her brother Michael were nominated for an Oscar for writing "Out Here on My Own" for 1980's Fame. She released Ever Since, her first album in 30 years, in 2005 and had been working on a stage adaptation of her life, Variety reports. She also played Catwoman's sidekick Pussycat in the 1960s Batman TV series.
ECR Music Group chief Blake Morgan, who produced Gore's last album, says he had known her since his childhood. "Lesley was like my rock 'n' roll godmother," he tells the Times. "It was a very courageous record for her to make, and a very defiant one." Gore came out as a lesbian when she hosted a few episodes of the PBS series In the Life, which dealt with gay and lesbian issues. "She was a wonderful human being—caring, giving, a great feminist, great woman, great human being, great humanitarian," Lois Sasson, her partner of 33 years, tells the AP. Sasson says Gore, a nonsmoker, died of lung cancer yesterday at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan.