Lesley Gore, who sang ‘It’s My Party,' dead at 68 New Jersey product, who was just 16 when she recorded her signature song and also had a string of other hits including ‘Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows,’ succumbed to cancer in New York City Monday. BY David Hinckley NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Monday, February 16, 2015, 4:54 PM Louis Lanzano/AP Lesley Gore, pictured at a 2008 ASCAP musical tribute for Quincy Jones, the producer who discovered her, died Monday of cancer. She was 68. Lesley Gore, who parlayed the classic song "It's My Party" into much more than one-hit wonderdom, died Monday at New York Presbyterian Hospital. She was 68 and had been suffering from cancer, according to her long-time partner Lois Sasson. While she remained best known for a song about being betrayed by her boyfriend, Gore also recorded one of pop's sharpest early feminist declarations, "You Don't Own Me." And, in a mild bit of pop culture irony, she was gay. She maintained a remarkable degree of privacy, however, and in a 2005 interview with Ellen DeGeneres, she said she never made a big deal about her sexual orientation one way or the other. "I didn't know until I was in my 20s," she said. Marty Lederhandler/AP Gore hugs a flowers in the shape of a record at her 18th birthday party celebrated at the Delmonico Hotel in New York in 1965. She also said that in spite of the music business being "totally homophobic," she never felt she had to pretend she was straight. "I just kind of lived my life naturally and did what I wanted to do," she said. "I didn't avoid anything, I didn't put it in anybody's face." Gore was a 16-year-old junior at the Dwight School for Girls in Englewood, N.J., when she recorded "It's My Party" on March 30, 1963. It was produced by Quincy Jones, who would later have some success producing Michael Jackson, and Gore often professed gratitude and admiration. "Quincy was smart enough to see this whole new youth market coming up," Gore told The News's Jim Farber in 2005. "He had been recording [older stars] like Dinah Washington and Brook Benton. So he put out a call for young singers. And one of my piano demos made it to his desk." He rushed her into the studio, worried by rumors that Phil Spector was also thinking about recording the song, and it was released a week later. Featuring a melody that became embedded in the listener's head after one spin, the song was classic white-bread teen drama in which singer is reduced to tears when her friend Judy steals her boyfriend Johnny. It shot to No. 1, and Gore told Ellen this instant success was "very difficult, to be honest. "When the disc jockey on WINS or WMCA would say, 'That was Lesley Gore, the sweetie pie from Tenafly,' well, people just came to Tenafly. You know, I'd wake up and there were people camped out on the grass." In keeping with standard music business practice of the time, Gore recorded a followup, "Judy's Turn to Cry," that sounded exactly the same. Dan Grossi/AP Gore topped the charts in 1963 with her epic song of teenage angst, ‘It’s My Party.’ It was also a dramatic sequel. Having been dumped by Johnny, the singer danced with another boy — and this made Johnny so jealous that "Johnny jumped up and he hit him / 'Cause he still loved me, that's why." And now that backstabbing Judy, a mean girl before there were officially mean girls, was left to sob. Gore went on tour with her songs and performed on the famous televised 1964 "TAMI" show. She also remained in school, juggling homework with tour dates, because the expectation at the time was that even someone with a No. 1 hit needed a backup plan. Rock 'n' roll was not considered a career for most of its practioners. Gore went on to Sarah Lawrence College and continued to have more hits, though she would later say that most of her college classmates "thought it was cooler to be Joan Baez than Lesley Gore." Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for SiriusXM Gorre attends the Cousin Brucie's First Annual Palisades Park Reunion presented by SiriusXM in June 2013. The hits, 10 of which made the charts, included "She's a Fool," "The Look of Love," "Maybe I Know," "California Nights" and "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows," an early Marvin Hamlisch song featured in the movie "Ski Party." Also in keeping with the marketing strategies of the time, Gore sang three songs in the 1965 film "The Girls on the Beach." She appeared in two episodes of the TV show Batman as Pussycat, who worked with Catwoman. She separated herself from other pop princesses of the day, however, with her 1964 hit "You Don't Own Me." Kept from the top of the charts by something called "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" by the Beatles, "You Don't Own Me" was a declaration of independence for teen and young girls trapped in a male-dominated world. "Don't tell me what to say," she sang. "Don't tell me what to do. Just let me be myself / That's all I ask of you." She recut it in 2005, telling Farber, "Without the loud backing track, I could ring more meaning from the lyric. It's a song that takes on new meaning every time you sing it." When her hits faded, Gore remained in the music business. A 1976 comeback album flopped, but she played regularly on the oldies circuit and received an Academy Award nomination in 1980 for cowriting "Out Here On My Own" with her brother Michael. In 2005 she recorded an album of jazz-flavored material called "Ever Since." Starting in 2004 she hosted the PBS-TV series "In the Life," which focused on LGBT issues. Besides Sasson, she is survived by her mother and her brother.