Irene Cara, singer and actress best known for starring in the theme songs to the 1980s films Fame and Flashdance, has died. She was 63 years old.
Cara died at her home in Florida, according to media personality Judith Moss, who announced the news on Cara’s social media account on Saturday. She said the cause of death was “currently unknown”.
“Erin’s family has asked for privacy while they process their grief,” Moss wrote. “She was a beautifully gifted soul, whose legacy will live on forever through her music and films.”
Cara was born into a working-class Puerto Rican and Cuban family in the Bronx borough of New York City. As a child actress, her credits included a stint as a regular on the 1970s children’s show The Electric Company.
But it was Fame, a 1980 film about a group of talented, ambitious young men in New York trying to launch their careers in the world of the performing arts, that catapulted Cara into superstardom. She sang lead on the theme song, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Fame star Laura Dean Koch remembered Cara as “a dynamo who could sing, dance, and act, the definition of a triple threat. Erin was a role model and someone I aspired to be like.”
Three years later, Cara accepted the Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Flashdance… What a Feeling”, along with the songwriting team on Flashdance (1983) – music by Giorgio Moroder, lyrics by Keith Forsey and Cara – for which she sang lead vocals. The cheery title song. She has also won two Grammy Awards for her work on Flashdance.
Kara influenced the future generation of artists. Broadway conductor and radio host Seth Ruditsky says watching Kara on screen as a child helped shape his career ambitions.
“Irene Cara represented the art industry in the arts and gave us so much excitement, hope and enthusiasm to pursue the arts,” he said.
In a follow-up statement on Twitter, Moss said that she and Cara were working on “amazing projects that would have made her and her fans incredibly happy.”
“Her manager and I will finish them,” she said. “She wants that.”