The multi-hyphenate died at her home in Florida, her publicist Judith A. Moose confirmed on social media. She did not reveal her cause of death, but that it will be released when more information is available.
“It is with profound sadness that on behalf of her family I announce the passing of Irene Cara,” Moose tweeted on Saturday.
This is the absolute worst part of being a publicist. I can’t believe I’ve had to write this, let alone release the news. Please share your thoughts and memories of Irene. I’ll be reading each and every one of them and know she’ll be smiling from Heaven. She adored her fans. – JM pic.twitter.com/TsC5BwZ3fh
— Irene Cara (@Irene_Cara) November 26, 2022
“Irene’s family has requested privacy as they process their grief,” she continued. “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.”
Born in New York City, Irene Cara Escalera was raised with a passion for entertainment. By the age of 5, she could play the piano by ear and was taking acting and dance classes. She starred on the popular children’s educational show The Electric Company from 1971 to 1972, playing Iris, a member of the band the Short Circus.
Four years later, she dazzled audiences with her vocal and acting prowess as Sparkle Williams in the 1976 film Sparkle, which was inspired by the story of the Supremes.
Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty Irene Cara, the Oscar-winning ‘Flashdance… What a Feeling’ singer and ‘Fame’ actress, has died.
The actress became an overnight sensation upon the release of the 1980 high school musical Fame, in which she not only played its star Coco Hernandez but also performed its groovy, disco-infused title song. The song earned her two Grammy nominations — for Best New Artist and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female — in 1981.
In 1983, Cara lent her voice to another film soundtrack: Flashdance, starring Jennifer Beals and Michael Nouri. “Flashdance… What a Feeling,” which Cara co-wrote, shot straight to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart and stayed there for six weeks.
The synth-drenched ballad, which was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, won Best Original Song and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 56th Academy Awards in 1984. That same year, the song won Grammys for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female.
Cara continued to perform for the rest of her life, landing roles both on screen and on the stage throughout the 1980s and ’90s. She also released four studio albums: 1982’s Anyone Can See, 1983’s What a Feelin’, 1987’s Carasmatic, and 2011’s Irene Cara Presents Hot Caramel.