Celebrity tributes poured in Saturday night for singer and actress Irene Cara, who was found dead in her Florida home at the age of just 63.
Cara, who won an Oscar in 1984 for the theme song from Flashdance, received a particularly touching homage from the movie’s star Jennifer Beals.
Beals posted a throwback shot of herself standing arm in arm with Cara at the 1984 Academy Awards as the songstress triumphantly held up her trophy.
‘Thank you brilliant Irene’: Tributes poured in Saturday for Irene Cara, including from Jennifer Beals who starred in Flashdance, the theme song of which won Cara her Oscar
The tributes poured in despite the fact many fans have refused to believe the news after a recent death hoax targeting the star.
‘Thank you brilliant Irene for your open heart and your fearless triple threat talent,’ Beals wrote in the caption. ‘It took a beautiful dreamer to write and perform the soundtracks for those who dare to dream.’
Cara also starred in and sang the theme song for the 1980 movie Fame, the basis of a subsequent 1980s TV show led by Debbie Allen, who shared her condolences this Saturday upon hearing of Cara’s death.
‘My Heart Is Broken,’ wrote Allen. ‘#IreneCara was such a gifted and beautiful genius. Her talent and her music will LIVE FOREVER! FOREVER REMEMBER HER NAME!’
‘My Heart Is Broken’: Debbie Allen, star of the the TV show of Fame whose original movie featured Irene, added her voice to the choir as did Lenny Kravitz
Lenny Kravitz tweeted: ‘Irene Cara, you inspired me more than you could ever know. Your songwriting and vocals created pure energy that will never cease. You also defined an era that is so close to my heart.’
He added: ‘Your portrayal of “Coco” in Alan Parker’s “Fame” is immortal and know that I was madly in love with her. Thank you Irene. You’re gonna live forever.’
Friends superstar Jennifer Aniston shared her feelings on her Insta Stories this Saturday along with a clip from Fame.
‘Oh boy Irene Cara,’ she wrote with a broken heart emoji. ‘Crushed. That movie. That song. That VOICE. That school. Those kids. Innocent and the whole world right in front of them. All of it sent me on my path. I was in. Sold. Hook line and sinker.’
‘That VOICE’: Friends superstar Jennifer Aniston shared her feelings on her Insta Stories this Saturday along with a clip from Fame
Living Single star Kim Fields gushed: ‘Irene Cara.Gloriously powerful award winning singer/songwriter. Her gifts empowered. Her songs fueled coming of age years. My fave memory is a childhood one: seeing people of color in a love story for the 1st time:Aaron Loves Angela.Her NY light will shine in this NYer’.
Shaun Cassidy hailed Cara a ‘beautiful soul,’ Ellen Barkin called her ‘beautiful’ and Deborah Cox said she was ‘one of my biggest inspirations growing up.’
‘Noooo! How sad! Only 63 years old!’ exclaimed Rosie Perez. ‘#IreneCara was a Queen! Was just talking about her performances in FAME and SPARKLE at Thanksgiving dinner!!! Amazing talent! My condolences to her loved ones and many many other fans who’ve loved her from the beginning like me.’
‘Ok if people know me they know “Sparkle” and “Fame” were two of my fav movies. Cause of this woman,’ Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones confided.
Outpouring: A cavalcade of famous names ranging from Shaun Cassidy and Rosie Perez to Deborah Cox and Ellen Barkin and Leslie Jones laid their grief bare
‘I thought one day I would maybe meet her She was so talented! This business wasn’t kind to her but in my eyes she will always be a legend! Rest in sweet Peace Angel! Irene Cara!’
‘Irene Cara, I loved you from the start!’ Breaking Bad actor Giancarlo Esposito shared. ‘You will be sorely missed in this world. Your talent and beautiful spirit touched us all so deeply. Farewell sweet princess.’
John Leguizamo shared that Irene Cara ‘was one of the reasons I am here today! She made me believe if you were Latin you could make it! She fueled my community. She will be missed! Rest in power!’
‘When I first saw Irene perform, I was just blown away!’ Holly Robinson Peete rhapsodized. ‘The insane combination of talent and beauty was overwhelming to me. This hurts my heart so much. I have been a fan for so many years … Rest In Peace’.
Dearly departed: Holly Robinson Peete, as well as Ice Age voice actor John Leguizamo and Breaking Bad alum Giancarlo Esposito, expressed their sadness
‘This breaks my [heart] to hear,’ Yvette Nicole Brown wrote on Twitter. ‘#IreneCara was one of the first women I saw singing, dancing & acting in color not B&W who looked like me. Seeing her in #Fame changed my life. 1 of the first 45s I remember owning was her beautiful song #AnyoneCanSee. It’s still one of my favorites.’
She recalled: ‘In the 80’s they used to have these booths in malls where you could record a song. It was like karaoke you could keep. They’d play the song, you’d sing along, it’d record you. On my class trip to Florida I found 1 & recorded #OutHereOnMyOwn. So I got to sing “with” #IreneCara.’
Yvette continued: ‘I tried to match every nuance and every run of her glorious rendition of that song. Mimicking her helped me find my own singing voice. I still have that tape. And then there was #Sparkle. Don’t even get me started on #IreneCara in Sparkle.’
The actress went on: ‘As I type this I’m so sad that I never got to meet her or to tell her how much she meant to girls like me with big dreams. You couldn’t be my age and want to be a performer without loving #Fame & #IreneCara. It’s an impossibility.’
‘This breaks my [heart] to hear’: Yvette Nicole Brown wrote on Twitter: ‘#IreneCara was one of the first women I saw singing, dancing & acting in color not B&W who looked like me’
She concluded: ‘Thru the years I’ve been blessed to give “flowers” to my other #Fame faves @msdebbieallen @ericagimpel @nia_peeples and of course @JanetJackson but I never got the chance to tell #IreneCara what she meant to a big dreamer like me. I hope in Heaven she now knows. #RIPIreneCara’.
‘Rest in Peace & Heaven incomparable multi-talented actress stage/screen, singer, songwriter, performer – Oscar & Grammy winner Irene Cara,’ Jody Watley shared on social media. ‘A trailblazer & inspiration. My condolences to her family she’s gonna live forever in [heart]leaving an incredible impactful legacy.’
‘Irene Cara. So lovely. What a presence. What a voice. She defined a decade with her songs. God speed,’ Matthew Modine effervesced.
The Real hostess Loni Love posted on Twitter that she ‘Grew up watching Irene Cara take on the world… what a feeling.. Rest In Peace.’
So many famous fans: Names ranging from The Real hostess Loni Love to The Dark Knight Rises actor Matthew Modine and singer Jody Watley added their warm words
A publicity account for the Tilly sisters, Meg and Jennifer, posted a clip from Fame and noted that the ‘famous street scene’ from the film with Irene’s song in it marked Meg’s ‘screen debut as a backup dancer.’
‘So sad,’ Jennifer wrote in reply. ‘I loved this movie and Irene was great in it. (That’s Meg in the crop top and the denim shorts with black tights) We went to the first matinee at the Cinerama Dome. As the lights came up we saw Irene Cara get up and exit. She’d been sitting in the back quietly watching.’
Widely acclaimed songwriter Diane Warren posted online: ‘Oh no. Sing in power forever Irene Cara. Light Up The Sky Like A Flame.’
‘I’m so sad to hear about Irene Cara, she was a real light,’ tweeted Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers fame, adding: ‘rest easy.’
Wow: Widely acclaimed songwriter Diane Warren, actress Jennifer Tilly and Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers fame were all struck by the news of Cara’s death
Cara, 63, singer of the hit Flashdance… What A Feelin’ that earned her her Oscar, was confirmed to have passed away by her publicist, Judith Moose, on Saturday after midnight.
The news of the singer’s passing was also confirmed by ABC 13.
‘It is with profound sadness that on behalf of her family I announce the passing of Irene Cara,’ Moose said in a statement. ‘Her cause of death is currently unknown and will be released when the information is available.’
The post came just after a death hoax about Cara, who starred in Fame and sang its theme, with many fans fearing the latest announcement may be part of another lie.
‘Sorry if this is true but I’m afraid after the hoax it’s difficult to believe,’ Twitter user Rachael L wrote in response to Moose. ‘On Friday (November 25) the actress’ reps officially confirmed that Irene Cara is not dead.
‘She joins the long list of celebrities who have been victimized by this hoax,’ the previous announcement said.
Moose, however, confirmed that Saturday’s announcement was real, adding that ‘We’re all in shock.’
The performer’s death was confirmed by her publicist, Judith Moose, in a statement (above)
Cara was beloved for her 1980 role as Coco Hernandez in the hit musical film Fame (pictured)
She then skyrocketed to stardom in 1984 with her title track pop classic for the iconic Flashdance
Many fans were in shock and did not immediately believe the news of Cara’s passing following the hoax
Pictured: Cara’s Largo, Florida home where she was confirmed dead by her family and publicist. The cause of death is currently unknown
Born in the Bronx as Irene Escalera, Cara had humble roots – her mom Louise was a cashier, while her father Gaspar was a steel worker and musician.
Cara inherited her father’s talent, becoming a trained singer, actor and dancer who made many on stage and television appearances as a child, including on PBS and Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show.
The performer then rocketed to fame in 1980 playing Coco Hernandez in the hit musical Fame.
She received two Grammy nominations for the musical and won Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Artist.
Cara went on to win a Grammy and an Oscar in 1984 with the title track to Flashdance, which starred Jennifer Beals.
She fell out of the spotlight after suing her former record company during the 1990s over her earnings. That saw Cara awarded $1.5 million by a California jury in 1993. But she was shunned by the music industry as a result, and her career suffered.
When confirming Cara’s death, Moose wrote: ‘She was a beautifully gifted soul whose legacy will live forever through her music and films.’
The publicist also expressed sympathy for the performer’s fans over the recent death hoax.
‘None of us were ever contacted regarding the hoax on a Facebook page. I completely understand it being difficult to believe. We’re all in shock.
Following appearances on TV on a starring role in a musical drama, Cara made waves in Fame, which earned her two Grammys. Pictured: Cara singing as Coco in the award-winning film
Pictured: Cara (far left) posing beside her fellow Fame actors in 1980. Her rendition of the theme song remains one of the most memorable tunes from a decade packed with classics
Pictured: Cara enjoying a day out at the beach in New York City’s Jacob Riis Park in 1982. She enjoyed a glittering career throughout the 1980s, but was shunned in the 90s after winning a lawsuit against her former label over earnings
Cara became a household name following her Fame success, appearing with Dick Clark (left) on Disney’s American Bandstand in 1983
Pictured: Cara holding her Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a female singer. She released some of the early 80s’ most-memorable hits
Despite her stardom peaking in the 1980s, Cara continued to perform throughout the decades. Pictured: Cara singing at the AFL finals in Melbourne, Australia in 2006
Pictured: Cara attending the Hollywood premier of Downtown: A Street Tale in 2004
The youngest of five children, Cara made her debut on stage at the young age of three, earning a spot as a finalist for the Little Miss America Pageant in 1962.
The daughter of a Puerto Rican and Cuban-American, Cara did a stint of appearances on Spanish-language TV shows before becoming a regular on PBS’s educational program, The Electric Company.
Along with her television work, Cara performed on a slew of off-Broadway productions, and her first big role came as the titular Sparkle Williams in the 1976 musical drama film, Sparkle.
Prior to Fame, Cara also had a starring role in the 1979 sequel to the classic Roots TV miniseries.
Although her stardom peaked in the 1980s, Cara continued to perform throughout the decades, appearing in films such as D.C. Cab, City Heat and Downtown, A Street Tale.
Pictured: Cara (left) played Bertha Palmer Haley in the sequel to the popular Roots miniseries
Cara (left), as Coco enjoying a meal on-set beside co-star Gene Ray, who played Leroy
Cara was beloved for her performance singing the titular track Fame. She is pictured alongside Lee Curreri, who played Bruno
Fans took to social media to mourn Cara’s death on Saturday
Following confirmation of Cara’s death, fans of the iconic singer flooded social media to share their grief.
Twitter user Jimmy Pavolic said he’s loved Cara’s singing since watching Fame as a child.
‘So sad to hear the passing of Irene Cara, this song ever since I heard it as a 12-year-old has stuck with me, my sincerest condolences to his family, friends & fans. R.I.P Irene Cara.’
Journalist and Disney alumnus Steven McCoy wrote: ‘I first met Ms. Irene Cara many years ago, she was truly a beautiful, kind and spiritual woman. She even sent me a gift package to my home and still hold dear to my heart. You will be truly missed.’
Another Twitter user with the handle Cromwell described Cara as the soundtrack of the 1980s.
‘This is very sad. Irene was writer, voice and performer of many of the greatest songs and film tracks of the 80’s. There’s a special place in my heart for #OutHereOnMyOwn from #Fame. Sleep well, lovely lady.’