Irene Cara, ‘Fame’ and ‘Flashdance’ Singer, Dead at 63

On Twitter Saturday, Irene Cara’s publicist, Judith Moose, broke the news that Cara died Friday at her Florida home.

Irene Cara, the Grammy and Oscar award-winning singer and actress, best known for title tracks in the classics “Fame” and “Flashdance,” has died. She was 63.

On Twitter Saturday, Cara’s publicist, Judith Moose, broke the news that Cara died Friday at her Florida home. “She was a beautifully gifted soul whose legacy will live forever through her music and films,” Moose wrote.

“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,” Moose continued. “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.” 

Cara was the youngest of five children, born in the Bronx in New York City to an Afro Puerto Rican father and Cuban American mother. Her career on stage started on Spanish language television, where she sang and danced professionally. She appeared on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson and was a regular on the PBS educational children’s show, “The Electric Company.” 

Although Cara’s credits are lengthy, also starring in 1976’s “Sparkle,” her own NBC pilot, “Irene,” and 1992’s “Beauty and the Beast,” the role that launched her into superstardom was when she portrayed Coco Hernandez in the 1980 film, “Fame” about a New York City performing arts high school. Cara sang the movie’s title song and “Out Here on My Own.” The film’s soundtrack reached the top of the charts. She also made history at the Oscars; it was the first time two songs from the same film were nominated in the same category and the first time they were sung by the same artist.

Just three years later, Cara would find herself in the spotlight again, earning the Oscar for Best Original Song and the Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance after she co-wrote and sang “Flashdance…What a Feeling.”

In response to Cara’s death, many took to social media with tributes.

“May her family, friends and fans find comfort in her memory, and may her legacy continue to inspire,” comedian Marsha Warfield wrote. 

Singer Deborah Cox tweeted, “Irene Cara is who inspired me growing up to be a ‘triple threat’ ….that you could not only have hit records but I have a hit tv show and slay…..a bright light for the culture. Irene Cara remember her name.”

New York City Mayor Eric Adams also paid tribute to Cara on social media, saying “Irene Cara sang New York City’s song. Born in the Bronx, she reached for the stars and delivered a soundtrack for the ages. She will be truly missed. Rest in peace.”