Irene Cara, the actress and singer best known for her role in the Academy Award-winning film Fame and leading the Flashdance soundtrack, has died. Cara’s publicist, Judith A. Moore, confirmed her death on Twitter, writing that Cara had died in her home in Florida and that the cause of death was “currently unknown.” She was 63 years old.
“She was a beautifully gifted soul whose legacy will live forever through her music and films,” the statement read. “Funeral services are pending and a memorial for her fans will be planned at a future date.”
Irene Cara Escalera was born in 1959 in the Bronx, New York. She began taking dance lessons at the age of five, getting her start on Spanish-language television before making her way on the PBS series The Electric Company as a member of the show’s band, the Short Circus. She went on to perform in several Broadway shows, including Galactica, Maggie Flynn, and Sparkle, the latter of which was adapted into a musical drama film in 1976.
Cara became a household name following her appearance in the 1980 film Fame, where she portrayed Coco Hernandez and sang the original title song and ‘Out Here on My Own’. The film’s success earned Cara Grammy nominations for Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, winning the latter. She also won an Oscar for Best Original Song at the 1980 Academy Awards for ‘Fame’ as well as a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Actress in a Musical.
Following the release of her debut album, Anyone Can See, in 1982, Cara sang the title song for Flashdance, ‘Flashdance… What a Feeling’, which was co-written with Giorgio Moroder and Keith Forsey. The sngle peaked No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and won Cara the Academy Award for Best Original Song and Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance that year.
“Irene’s family has requested privacy as they process their grief,” Moose’s statement continued. “She was a beautifully gifted soul whose legacy will live forever through her music and films.” In a follow-up post, Moose said that she and Cara had been working on “amazing projects that would have made her and her fans incredibly happy,” adding, “Her manager and I will finish them. She’d want that.”