Oscar-Winning 'Fame' And 'Flashdance' Singer And Actor Irene Cara Dies At 63

Debbie Allen, who worked with the actor/singer/songwriter, said on Twitter that her "heart is broken."
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A portrait of Irene Cara taken in 1983 in Los Angeles, California.
A portrait of Irene Cara taken in 1983 in Los Angeles, California.
Harry Langdon via Getty Images

Irene Cara, the singer and actor who starred in her breakout role in the 1980 movie “Fame,” has died, her publicist tweeted early Saturday morning. She was 63.

“It is with profound sadness that, on behalf of her family, I announce the passing of Irene Cara,” Judith A. Moose, Cara’s publicist, said in the statement.

Cara died in her Florida home, Moose said, adding that her cause of death is currently unknown. The publicist confirmed Cara’s death to the Associated Press on Saturday but did not announce the date the singer/actor died.

“She was a beautifully gifted soul whose legacy will live forever through her music and films,” Moose said in the statement. “Funeral services are pending, and a memorial for her fans will be planned at a future date.”

Cara rose to fame after she memorably starred as Coco Hernandez in the musical “Fame.” She recorded the film’s title hit song, which earned her a Grammy nomination in 1981.

Lee Curreri and Irene Cara in a scene from 1980 film "Fame," directed by Alan Parker.
Lee Curreri and Irene Cara in a scene from 1980 film "Fame," directed by Alan Parker.
United Artists via Getty Images

The singer/songwriter later co-wrote and recorded the groundbreaking track, “Flashdance... What a Feeling,” from the 1983 film “Flashdance,” starring Jennifer Beals.

Cara won an Oscar for Best Original Song for the single in 1983. “Flashdance” earned Cara two Grammys for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female and Best Album Of Original Score Written For A Motion Picture Or A Television Special. She also earned a Golden Globe for the song in the category of Best Song Motion Picture.

The “Fame” star, born in New York, began performing at age 5, according to her website. She appeared in various theater productions and played Sparkle Williams in the 1976 musical film “Sparkle.” She appeared in the TV mini-series “Roots: The Next Generation” in 1979. She went on to portray Dorothy in a production of “The Wiz” in 1980.

Some of Cara’s other roles included appearances in the 1982 movie “Killing Me Softly” and the 1984 film “City Heat.”

People have taken to Twitter to mourn Cara’s death on Saturday.

Debbie Allen, who co-starred with Cara in “Fame,” tweeted that her “heart is broken.”

“#IreneCara was such a gifted and beautiful genius,” she wrote on Saturday. “Her talent and her music will LIVE FOREVER! FOREVER REMEMBER HER NAME! #FAME”

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