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Irene Cara, Entertainment Triple-Threat and Oscar-Winning Singer, Dead at 63

Irene Cara
Trailblazing actress and singer Irene Cara — a former teen star who rose to international prominence in the 1980s on the strength of her performance as entertainment triple-threat Coco Hernandez in the hit movie "Fame" — has died. She was 63.

Cara's publicist, Judith Moose, shared the news on the star's official Twitter account on Saturday.

"It is with profound sadness that on behalf of her family I announce the passing of Irene Cara," Moose wrote. "The Academy Award-winning actress, singer, songwriter, and producer passed away in her Florida home."

Moose went on to say that the cause of Cara's death was currently unknown, but more information would be released when it was available and said a memorial for her fans would be "planned at a future date."

"She was a beautifully gifted soul whose legacy will live forever through her music and films," Moose continued.

The New York native was the youngest of five children. born in the Bronx on March 18, 1959, to a Black Puerto Rican father and a Cuban American mother.

Cara's entertainment career began early with her participation in the Little Miss America Pageant as a child. She began studying piano, dance and acting seriously by the age of five and her talents landed her on Spanish-language TV, where she displayed her skills as a singer and dancer.

In addition to putting out a Spanish-language album and an English Christmas record, she also spent time on television's "Electric Company" as a regular in the show's house band, before roles in the movies "Aaron Loves Angela" and "Sparkle" as a teen made her a star.

It was her role in the 1980 musical "Fame" about New York's High School for the Performing Arts, however, that would catapult Cara into the forefront of the world's conciseness.

Her performance earned her a Golden Globe and two Grammy nominations. Cara earned hit singles with the eponymously named title track as well as "Out Here on My Own," helping make the film's multi-platinum soundtrack reach No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

The peak of her career would come three years later with the release of "Flashdance… What a Feeling." Cara co-wrote the lyrics for the title track to the Jennifer Beals-led romantic drama centered on the dance world.

For her efforts, she became the first Hispanic-Black woman to win an Oscar in a category other than an acting category, winning the Academy Award for Best Original Song. The smash hit also earned her a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female.

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