Fame Star Irene Cara Dies at 63

She sang movie's title song, 'Flashdance' theme
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 26, 2022 10:30 AM CST

Oscar, Golden Globe, and two-time Grammy winning singer-actor 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 on social media, writing that a cause of death was "currently unknown." Moose also confirmed the death to an AP reporter on Saturday. 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," "Fame," and "Flashdance ... What A Feeling," which spent six weeks at No. 1 and won the Oscar for Best Original Song in 1983. She was behind some of the most joyful, high-energy pop anthems of the early ’80s. Tributes poured in on Saturday on social media, including from Deborah Cox, who called Cara an inspiration, and Holly Robinson Peete, who recalled seeing Cara perform: "The insane combination of talent and beauty was overwhelming to me. This hurts my heart so much." She first came to prominence among the young actors playing performing arts high schoolers in Fame, with co-stars Debbie Allen, Paul McCrane and Anne Mear. 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. The New York-born Cara began her career on Broadway, mostly 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 a tour of the musical Flashdance toured 2012-14 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 other movie credits include Sparkle and DC Cab. (Read more obituary stories.)

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