Irene Cara, who is best known for her roles in Fame (1980) and Flashdance (1983), tragically passed away at her Largo, Florida residence on November 25, 2022 – she was just 63 years old. The cause of death was unknown at the time of her passing, but that information was released on February 2, 2023.
According to a report by the Pinellas County medical examiner, Cara passed away from arteriosclerosis and hypertensive cardiovascular disease. The report also noted that the actress-singer struggled with diabetes mellitus – the technical term for diabetes – and listed the disease as a contributory condition.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines arteriosclerosis as the buildup of plaque – from fat, blood cells, cholesterol, and other substances – inside the arteries. It also defines hypertensive cardiovascular disease as a ‘constellation of changes’ in the heart as a result of ‘chronic blood pressure elevation.’
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Irene Cara enjoyed most of her success in the 1980s and early-1990s. She rose to prominence as Coco Hernandez in the 1980 film Fame – she was originally cast as a dancer, but that changed when directors heard her sing. As a result, she sang the film’s title song of the same name and ‘Out Here on My Own.’
Her excellence in the film led to her receiving a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Motion Picture in 1980 and two Grammy Award nominations for Best Pop Vocal Performance and Best New Artist in 1981. While she didn’t win any of those awards, it was just the start of her illustrious career.
In 1983, she co-wrote and sang the title song for the 1983 film Flashdance – the song was ‘Flashdance… What a Feeling.’ She reportedly wrote the song with Keith Forsey in a car on her way to the studio, where she would record it. While she wasn’t cast in the film, it essentially marked the peak of her music career.
The song went on to win an Academy Award for Best Original Song, a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song, a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female, and a People’s Choice Award for Favorite Theme/Song from a Motion Picture – that’s aside from a flurry of other award nominations.
Irene Cara Remembered as a ‘Beautifully Gifted Soul’
Irene Cara’s tragic death was confirmed by her publicist, Judith A. Moose – who’s also the President of JM Media Group. “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,” she wrote on Twitter.
She called Irene Cara a ‘beautifully gifted soul whose legacy will live forever through her music and films.’ In a comment, she added that Irene was ‘working on amazing projects that would have made her and her fans incredibly happy.’ While she won’t be alive to finish them, her manager has vowed to finish them.
Several of her friends and colleagues added to the tributes. Jennifer Beals, who starred as Alex Owens in Flashdance, shared a photo of her and Irene on Instagram. “Thank you brilliant Irene for your open heart and your fearless triple threat talent,” she said. Debbie Allen and Questlove also honored Cara.
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Allen, who starred as Lydia Grant in Fame, said Irene ‘was such a gifted and beautiful genius. Her talent and her music will LIVE FOREVER!’ on Twitter. Her legacy will be remembered for the rest of time. She touched the hearts of many with her singing and songwriting – our hearts are with her loved ones!
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