Oscar-winning 'Fame' and 'Flashdance' singer/actress Irene Cara dead at 63

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Singer and actress Irene Cara, best known for starring in and singing the title song of the movie Fame, and topping the charts with “Flashdance…What a Feeling,” from the movie Flashdance, has died, her publicist announced on social media. She was 63.

“It is with profound sadness that on behalf of her family I announce the passing of Irene Cara,” Judith A. Moose posted on Cara’s official Twitter account. Moose wrote that Cara passed away in her Florida home, and that her cause of death is “currently unknown.”

“She was a beautifully gifted soul whose legacy will live forever through her music and films,” Moose continued, adding that her family has “requested privacy as they process their grief.”  A memorial will be planned for a future date.

Cara began singing, acting and dancing professionally as a child, appearing on TV and musicals both on and off Broadway. Her early roles included the soap opera Love of Life, the mini-series Roots: The Next Generations and the 1976 cult film Sparkle, in which she portrayed the title character.

She shot to fame as Coco Hernandez in the movie Fame, and also sang both singles released from the movie’s hit soundtrack: the title theme and “Out Here on My Own.”  Both those songs were nominated for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards, marking the first time in history that two songs from the same movie, performed by the same artist, had been nominated in that category. “Fame” won the Oscar.

In 1983, Cara co-wrote the title theme for the movie Flashdance. That song, “Flashdance…What a Feeling,” topped the Billboard Hot 100 and won her the Oscar and the Golden Globe for Best Original Song, as well as the Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. 

Cara’s other acting credits included the films City Heat, D.C. Cab and Certain Fury. She continued to act and record into the 21st century.

In 2020, Mariah Carey wrote in her memoir The Meaning of Mariah Carey that Cara was “everything to me,” adding, “I related to her multicultural look…her multi-textured hair and, most importantly, her ambition and accomplishments.”  Mariah also released her own version of “Out Here on My Own.”

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