Irene Cara, the award-winning singer known for her roles in the films “Sparkle” and “Fame” along with the song “Flashdance… What A Feeling” passed away in her home in Florida. Cara’s passing was confirmed by her publicist Judith A. Moose in a Twitter post.
Moose wrote “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”
Born in the Bronx, New York, as a child, Cara appeared in on-and off-Broadway plays and an appearance on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. She was was a regular on the PBS kid’s program “The Electric Company,” as a member of the show’s band, The Short Circus.
In 1976, Cara got her first big break in the film “Sparkle.” The film stars Cara as Sparkle Williams, the youngest of three sisters who becomes a ringing trio, against their mothers’ wishes. Their rise to stardom is hit with tragedy when the oldest sister (played by Lonette McKee) is killed in an abusive relationship and another, (played by Dwan Smith) leaves to become an activist. Sparkle eventually gets her big break with the help of her boyfriend (played by Philip Michael Thomas). The film would be accompanied by a soundtrack performed by Aretha Franklin and produced by Curtis Mayfield.
The film was remade in 2012 starring Jordin Sparks, Carmen Ejogo, Tika Sumpter, Mike Epps, and Whitney Houston in her final film role.
In 1980, Cara would get the role and song that would make her a star. In “Fame,” Cara would play the role of Coco Hernandez, one of the students at the High School of Performing Arts. Cara would sing the lead single title song “Fame” and “Out Here on My Own.” Both songs would go on to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Cara also earned Grammy nominations in 1980 for Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
Now focusing on her singing career, Cara released her debut album” Anyone Can See” in 1982. The next year, Cara would release “, “Flashdance… What a Feeling” The song would win the Oscar for Best Song, making her the first Hispanic-black woman to win an Oscar in a category other than an acting category and the second to be nominated outside an acting category.
Cara was 63 years old.
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