The entertainment world was shocked and saddened over the weekend to learn that 1980s hitmaker Irene Cara was found dead in her Florida home at the relatively young age of 63, as NBC News reports.
The beloved performer’s death was confirmed by her publicist, Judith Moose, who issued a statement saying, “It is with profound sadness that on behalf of her family I announce the passing of Irene Cara” and further noted that the singer’s cause of death is currently unknown.
Though Cara had appeared in numerous productions including PBS’ Electric Company as well as several off-Broadway productions, NBC News noted that she became a household name when she was honored with a Golden Globe nomination following her portrayal of Coco Hernandez in the 1980 musical film, Fame.
The movie’s immense popularity went on to spur a television series based on its storyline, and it aired on NBC starting in the early part of 1982.
Cara also enjoyed international fame due to her 1983 song “Flashdance…What a Feeling,” which featured in the major motion picture of the same name.
For that effort, the songstress won an Academy Award for Best Original Song, making her the first Black performer since 1939 to achieve that particular honor.
The well-known number also brought Cara a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, truly cementing her place in music history.
Tributes pour in
The news of Cara’s death was greeted with profound sadness from all corners, with Moose describing her as “a beautifully gifted soul whose legacy will live forever through her music and films.”
According to the Daily Mail, Flashdance star Jennifer Beals paid homage to Cara on social media, which read, “Thank you brilliant Irene for your open heart and your fearless triple threat talent. It took a beautiful dreamer to write and perform the soundtracks for those who dare to dream.”
Debbie Allen, who was the creative force behind the television version of Fame, took to Twitter to write, “My Heart is Broken. #IreneCara was such a gifted and beautiful genius. Her talent and her music will LIVE FOREVER! FOREVER REMEMBER HER NAME.”
Newsweek noted that New York City Mayor Eric Adams added his voice to those expressing sadness online, saying, “Irene Cara sang New York City’s song. Born in the Bronx, she reached for the stars and delivered a soundtrack for the ages. She will be truly missed. Rest in peace.”
According to Moose, Cara’s family has asked for privacy as they continue to process their grief and plan her funeral services, but those wishing to celebrate her life and career will have the opportunity to do so at a memorial that will reportedly take place at future date yet to be determined.