Irene Cara, an Oscar-winning singer and the voice behind two iconic ’80s movie theme songs, has died. Find out more about her life and career.
The entertainment world has lost an ’80s icon.
Irene Cara, known for singing the joyful theme songs to the cult musical films Fame and Flashdance, has died. she was 63.
Her publicist, Judith A. Moose, announced the star’s death on Twitter on Nov. 25. “It is with profound sadness that on behalf of the family I announce the passing of Irene Cara. 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.”
The statement continued, “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.’
Irene Cara had an impressive career as an actress and singer.
Cara began her entertainment career as a child singer. In the ’70s, while still very young, she also tried her hand as an actress, appearing on the soap opera Love of Life, the children’s variety show The Electric Company, the miniseries Roots: The Next Generations and later, as a teen, as the lead in the 1976 musical film Sparkle.
She also appeared in four Broadway musicals—Maggie Flynn, The Me Nobody Knows, Via Galactica and Got Tu Go Disco.
But it was the 1980 musical drama film Fame that launched her to international, well, fame. The film centered around a performing arts high school, Cara played student Coco Hernandez and performed four songs, including the hit single “Fame,” for the movie soundtrack.
The New York native went on to co-write and perform the lead single “Flashdance… What a Feeling” for the soundtrack to the 1983 romantic drama dance film Flashdance, starring Jennifer Beals as a dancer who aspires to become a professional ballerina. The song earned Cara a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female, and an Oscar for Best Music, Original Song.
“Thank you brilliant Irene for your open heart and your fearless triple threat talent,” Beals wrote on Instagram after news of the singer’s death was made public. “It took a beautiful dreamer to write and perform the soundtracks for those who dare to dream. #RIPirenecara.”
In 1984, Cara co-starred with Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds in the movie City Heat. Later, in the late ’80s and early ’90s, Cara did voiceover work for children’s animated films, such as the movie Happily Ever After. Her last onscreen role as in an episode of the TV series Hearts Are Wild in 1992.
Cara also continued her music career, and performed a cover of Petula Clark‘s hit “Downtown” for the soundtrack of the 2004 film Downtown: A Street Tale. In 2011, Cara released her final album, Irene Cara Presents Hot Caramel with her all-female band, Hot Caramel.
In a follow-up statement, her publicist tweeted, “We were working on amazing projects that would have made her and her fans incredibly happy. Her manager and I will finish them. She’d want that.”
Irene Cara was “semi-retired” and had an improved net worth before her death.
In recent years, Cara enjoyed what she called a “semi-retired” life in Florida. “I sell my stuff online and most of the time I’m just here with my family. And I’m very proud of my family,” the star told SongwriterUniverse in 2018. “I have a beautiful home by the beach and life is good. I live off my royalties and I work when I want to.”
Cara was preceded in death by two older brothers and her parents. “I’m just happy that I was able to fulfill their dreams for me before they passed away,” she told SongwriterUniverse. “When you’re five or six years old, you don’t choose a career. I wasn’t a child who decided, ‘I want to be in showbiz.’ This was something that was laid out for me by my parents. This was their dream for me, and I fulfilled it. So I’m happy about that.”
About her net worth, Cara had a total estimated net worth of $4 million, per The Richest. Irene was one of the top three finalists of Little Miss America pageant when she was three years old.