Irene Cara, the singer-actress best known for performing and belting out the title tracks of the 1980s films Fame and Flashdance, has died. He was 63 years old.
Cara died at her home in Florida, said her publicist Judith Moos, who announced the news on Cara’s social media account Saturday. He said the cause of death was “currently unknown”.
“Irene’s family has requested privacy as they process their grief,” Moose wrote. “He was a beautiful gifted soul whose legacy will live on forever through his music and films.”
Cara was born into a working-class Puerto Rican and Cuban family in the Bronx neighborhood of New York City. As a child actor, his credits included regular work on the 1970s children’s show The Electric Company.
But it was Fame, the 1980 movie about a group of talented young hopefuls from New York trying to launch their careers in the cutthroat performing arts world, that launched Kara to stardom. He sang on the title track which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Famed co-star Laura Dean Koch called Cara “a dynamo who could sing, dance and act, the definition of a triple threat. Irene was a role model and I wanted to be one.”
Who influenced future generations of artists? Broadway conductor and radio host Seth Rudetsky says seeing Kara on screen as a child helped shape his career ambitions.
“Irene Cara represented who made it into the arts and gave us so much excitement and hope and encouragement to pursue art,” he said.
In a follow-up statement on Twitter, Moose said that he and Cara are “working on amazing projects that will make him and his fans incredibly happy.”
“Her manager and I will finish them,” she said. “He’ll want it.”
The publicist asked people to share their thoughts and memories of the singer, adding: “I will read every one of them and know he will be smiling down from heaven. He loved his fans.” Cara, who was born in 1959 in the Bronx, New York City, worked in television and theater before landing the lead role in the 1976 musical drama Sparkle.