“Fame” and “Flashdance” singer and actress Irene Cara dies at the age of 63

NEW YORK — Academy Award, Golden Globe, and two-time Grammy Award-winning actress Irene Cara, who performed and sang the title segment of the hit 1980 film Fame, then belted out the epoch-making hit Flashdance… What a Feeling and 1983’s Flashdance Is 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 Associated Press reporter on Saturday. Cara died at her home in Florida. The exact date of her death was not disclosed.

“Irene’s family has requested privacy while she processes her grief,” Moose wrote. “She was a wonderfully gifted soul whose legacy will live on 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 stayed at No. 1 for six weeks. She was behind some of the happiest, most energetic pop anthems of the early ’80s, including “Out Here On My Own” and “Why Me?”

Tributes poured in on social media on Saturday, 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 for me overwhelming. That hurts me so much.”

She first rose to prominence among the young actors playing high school performing arts students in Alan Parker’s Fame, co-starring Debbie Allen, Paul McCrane and Anne Meara. Cara played Coco Hernandez, an aspiring dancer who endures all sorts of hardships, including a creepy nude photo shoot.

“How bright our spirits shoot out into space depends on how much we have contributed to the earthly splendor of this world. And I intend to make an important contribution!” she says in the film.

Cara sang the soaring theme song with the chorus – “Remember my name / I’ll live forever / I’ll learn to fly / I feel it coming together / People will see me and cry” – which would go on for an Oscar for to be nominated for Best Original Song. She also sang on “Out Here on My Own”, “Hot Lunch Jam” and “I Sing the Body Electric”.

Allen took to Twitter on Saturday to mourn, posting pictures of them together and calling Cara “a gifted and beautiful genius.” Her talent and her music will live forever! Remember her name forever!”

Lenny Kravitz tweeted at Cara, “You inspired me more than you could ever know. Your songwriting and singing have created pure energy that will never run dry. They also shaped an era that is so close to my heart.” Stephanie Mühlen. who co-starred with Cara in Maggie Flynn on Broadway in 1968 wrote, “Such an amazing talent and a sweet person.”

Three years after her triumph with Fame, she and the Flashdance songwriting team – music by Giorgio Moroder, lyrics by Keith Forsey and Cara – accepted the Academy Award for Best Original Song for Flashdance…What a Feeling. ”

The film starred Jennifer Beals as a steel town girl who dances at night in a bar and hopes to enter a prestigious dance conservatory. It included the hit “Maniac,” in which Beals’ character jumps, spins, stamps his feet, and the slow-burning title track.

“There aren’t enough words to express my love and gratitude,” Cara told the Oscar crowd in her thanks. “And last but not least, a very special gentleman who I believe started it all for me many years ago. Alan Parker, wherever you are tonight, thank him.”

Born in New York, Cara began her Broadway career with small roles in short-lived shows, although a musical called The Me Nobody Knows ran over 300 performances. She toured in the mid-1990s musical Jesus Christ Superstar as Mary Magdalene and toured with her songs in the musical Flashdance in 2012-14.

She also formed the all-female band Irene Cara Presents Hot Caramel and released a double CD single How Can I Make You Luv Me. Her films include Sparkle and DC Cab.

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Associated Press reporters Hillel Italie and Freida Frisaro contributed to this report.

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Mark Kennedy can be found at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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