Irene Cara, the singer-actress best remembered for her roles in her vocal performances in the 1980s films Fame and Flashdance, has died. She was 63 years old.
Cara died at her Florida home, according to her publicist, Judith Moose, who announced the news on Cara’s Instagram account on Saturday. The cause of death, she said, was “currently unknown.”
“Irene’s family has asked for privacy as they grieve,” Moose wrote. “She was a wonderfully gifted soul whose music and films will live on forever.”
Cara was born in New York City’s Bronx neighbourhood to a working-class Puerto Rican and Cuban family. Her credits as a young performer include a regular appearance on the 1970s children’s show The Electric Company.
But it was Fame, a 1980 film about a group of talented young hopefuls in New York trying to break into the cutthroat world of performing arts, that catapulted Cara to stardom. She was nominated for an Academy Award for best original song for her performance on the title track.
Laura Dean Koch, Cara’s co-star on Fame, remembered her as “a powerhouse who could sing, dance, and act, the epitome of a triple threat Irene was someone I looked up to and aspired to be like.”
Three years later, Cara accepted the Oscar for best original song for “Flashdance… What a Feeling,” along with the songwriting team of Flashdance (1983), for which she sang the jubilant title song — music by Giorgio Moroder, lyrics by Keith Forsey and Cara. She also received two Grammy Awards for her contributions on Flashdance.
Cara influenced a future generation of artists. Broadway conductor and radio host Seth Rudetsky says watching Cara on screen as a kid helped shape his career ambitions.
“Irene Cara represented making it in the arts and gave us so much excitement and hope and enthusiasm to pursue the arts,” he said.
In a follow-up statement on Twitter, Moose said that she and Cara had been working on “amazing projects that would have made her and her fans incredibly happy.”
“Her manager and I will finish them,” she said. “She’d want that.”