Irene Cara, Oscar-Winning ‘Flashdance’ Singer and Actress, Dead at 63

The Oscar and Grammy winner was behind some of the most iconic film soundtracks of the 1980s.
Irene Cara
Irene Cara
©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

Irene Cara, the Oscar-winning singer and actress best known for performing the title songs to the films “Flashdance” and “Fame,” has died at the age of 63.

“It is with profound sadness that on behalf of her family I announce the passing of Irene Cara,” her publicist Judith A. Moose wrote on the artist’s official Twitter account. “The Academy Award winning actress, singer, songwriter, and producer passed away in her Florida home. Her cause of death is currently unknown and will be released when information is available. 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. Funeral services are pending and a memorial for her fans will be planned at a future date.”

Born in The Bronx in 1959, Cara began to study singing and dancing at a young age and found early success performing in Broadway musicals. She played her first lead role in the 1976 musical film “Sparkle,” but her real breakthrough came when she was cast as Coco Hernandez in “Fame.” She performed two songs for the film’s soundtrack, “Fame” and “Out Here on My Own,” both of which were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song. The dual nominations allowed her to make history as one of the few musicians to perform multiple songs in the same Oscars broadcast. She was also nominated for two Grammy awards and a Golden Globe for her work on the film.

Cara followed the success of “Fame” with another standout movie soundtrack performance. She co-wrote and performed “Flashdance… What a Feeling,” the title track from Adrian Lyne’s 1983 dance film “Flashdance.” That song crossed over and became a massive hit, winning Cara an Oscar for Best Song, a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and a Golden Globe for Best Original Song.

Cara continued to act throughout the 1980s, notably starring alongside Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds in the 1984 comedy “City Heat.” She continued to record music and perform live throughout her life. Her final album, “Irene Cara Presents Hot Caramel,” was released in 2011.

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