Irene Cara, “Fame” & “Flashdance” Singer, Dead At 63

United Artists/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Irene Cara, “Fame” & “Flashdance” Singer, Dead At 63

United Artists/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Irene Cara, the award-winning actress and singer best known for her role in Fame and leading the Flashdance soundtrack, has died. She was 63. Cara’s publicist, Judith A. Moose, confirmed Cara’s passing on social media, writing that Cara had died in her home in Florida and that the cause of death was “currently unknown.” Moose wrote: “Irene’s family has requested privacy as they process their grief. She was a beautifully gifted soul whose legacy will live forever through her music and films.”

Cara was born in 1959 in the Bronx and began taking dance lessons at just five years old. Her first performances were on Spanish-language television and on The Tonight Show. In the early 1970s, Cara performed on PBS’ The Electric Company as a member of the show’s band, the Short Circus. She also appeared in a concert tribute to Duke Ellington, which also featured Stevie Wonder, Sammy Davis Jr., and Roberta Flack.

Later, Cara appeared in on-and off-Broadway shows such as Ain’t Misbehavin’, The Me Nobody Knows, Maggie Flynn, and Via Galactica. Cara also appeared in the acclaimed TV mini-series Roots: The Next Generations and Guyana Tragedy: The Story Of Jim Jones. Prior to appearing in Fame, Cara portrayed the title character Sparkle Williams in the original 1976 musical drama film Sparkle.

In 1980, Cara appeared in the hit film Fame, where she starred as Coco Hernandez and sang the original title song, plus “Out Here On My Own,” for which Cara earned Grammy nods for Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Cara also won a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture Actress In A Musical.

In 1983, Cara sang the title song for Flashdance, “Flashdance… What a Feeling,” which she co-wrote with Giorgio Moroder and Keith Forsey. That year, she won an Oscar for Best Song. In 1984, she won a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and a Golden Globe for Best Original Song, among other awards.

In 1987, Cara released her third and final album, Carasmatic . Following Fame and Flashdance, Cara made soundtrack appearances in the 1989 animated film All Dogs Go To Heaven, 1990’s Happily Ever After, 1997’s The Full Monty, and others. Cara also starred in an early ’90s touring revival of Jesus Christ Superstar, where she portrayed Mary Magdalene.

Tributes to Cara poured on social media, including from Canadian singer/actress Deborah Cox and actress/singer Holly Robinson Peete, who remembered seeing Cara perform: “The insane combination of talent and beauty was overwhelming to me. This hurts my heart so much.”

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