Oscar, Golden Globe and two-time Grammy winning singer-actress Irene Cara, who starred and sang the title cut from the 1980 hit movie Fame and then belted out the era-defining hit Flashdance … What a Feeling from 1983’s Flashdance, has died. She was 63.
Her publicist, Judith A. Moose, announced the news early Saturday on social media, writing that a cause of death was “currently unknown.” Moose said Cara died at her home in Florida. The exact day of her death was not disclosed.
“Irene’s family has requested privacy as they process their grief,” Moose wrote. “She was a beautifully gifted soul whose legacy will live forever through her music and films.”
During her career, Cara had three Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including Breakdance, Out Here On My Own, Fame and Flashdance … What A Feeling, which spent six weeks at No. 1. She was behind some of the most joyful, high-energy pop anthems of the early ’80s.
This is the absolute worst part of being a publicist. I can’t believe I’ve had to write this, let alone release the news. Please share your thoughts and memories of Irene. I’ll be reading each and every one of them and know she’ll be smiling from Heaven. She adored her fans. – JM pic.twitter.com/TsC5BwZ3fh
She first came to prominence among the young actors playing performing arts high schoolers in Alan Parker’s Fame, with co-stars Debbie Allen, Paul McCrane and Anne Mear.
Allen took to Twitter Saturday to mourn, posting pictures of them together and calling Cara “a gifted and beautiful genius. Her talent and her music will live forever!”
In Fame, Cara played Coco Hernandez, a striving dancer who endures all manner of deprivations, including a creepy nude photo shoot.
“How bright our spirits go shooting out into space, depends on how much we contributed to the earthly brilliance of this world. And I mean to be a major contributor!” she says in the movie.
Cara sang on the soaring title song with the chorus — “Remember my name/I’m gonna live forever/I’m gonna learn how to fly/I feel it coming together/People will see me and cry” — which would go on to be nominated for an Academy Award for best original song. She also sang on Out Here on My Own, Hot Lunch Jam and I Sing the Body Electric.Oscar for best original song
Three years later, she and the songwriting team of Flashdance — music by Giorgio Moroder, lyrics by Keith Forsey and Cara — were accepting the Academy Award for best original song for Flashdance … What a Feeling.
The movie starred Jennifer Beals as a steel-town girl who dances in a bar at night and hopes to attend a prestigious dance conservatory. It included the hit song Maniac, featuring Beals’ character leaping, spinning, stomping her feet and the slow-burning theme song.
“There aren’t enough words to express my love and my gratitude,” Cara told the Oscar crowd in her thanks. “And last but not least, a very special gentlemen who I guess started it all for me many years ago. To Alan Parker, wherever you may be tonight, I thank him.”
The New York-born Cara began her career on Broadway, with small parts in short-lived shows, although a musical called The Me Nobody Knows ran over 300 performances. She toured in the musical Jesus Christ Superstar as Mary Magdalene in the mid-1990s and for the musical Flashdance she toured from 2012-2014 with her songs.
She also created the all-female band Irene Cara Presents Hot Caramel and put out a double CD with the single How Can I Make You Luv Me. Her movie credits include Sparkle and D.C. Cab.