- By KEN WERTHER
Triple-threat entertainer Irene Cara passed away in Largo, Florida, on November 25. She was only 63 years old. The youngest of five children, she first dazzled audiences at the tender age of five, singing and dancing on Spanish language television. While still under the age of 10, she appeared on The Original Amateur Hour and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. From 1971–1972, she was a regular on PBS’s educational program The Electric Company as a member of the show’s band. Also in the 1970s, she appeared in several Broadway musicals (which most people I’ve spoken to did not know!). More television work brought her international acclaim for serious dramatic roles in two mini-series, Roots: The Next Generation and Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones. Then, in 1980, she appeared as Coco Hernandez in the hit movie Fame, also singing the film’s title song. Both the character and the song became part of the national zeitgeist.
In 1983, she co-wrote and performed the title track for the acclaimed musical film Flashdance. It became her biggest hit, and she won an Academy Award for Best Original Song (also a somewhat little known or remembered fact). She won Grammy, Golden Globe, and Peoples’ Choice Awards, and received countless other industry honors for outstanding actress, singer, and composer. Gone way too soon, she will remain a beloved Icon for generations to come and an inspiration to young performers all over the world.
Irene Cara | March 18, 1959 – November 25, 2022