Irene Cara, star of ‘Flashdance’ and ‘Fame,’ died of natural causes, local officials say

Her cause of death is listed as “arteriosclerotic and hypertensive cardiovascular disease” in a report from the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner’s Office.
Actress Irene Cara poses during an interview in Los Angeles, on July 2,1990. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Actress Irene Cara poses during an interview in Los Angeles, on July 2,1990. (AP Photo/Nick Ut) [ NICK UT | AP (1990) ]
Published Feb. 11

A recently released report from the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner’s Office provides more details on the death of actor and singer Irene Cara.

Cara, whose real name is Irene Escalera, was found dead in her Largo home by a Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office deputy during a welfare check on Nov. 25, 2022. She was 63.

According to an investigation report, the last known record of Cara being alive was a Nov. 1 call with her secretary. Three days prior to that call, Cara spoke with her manager and said she was having intestinal issues, officials say.

No one heard from her or was able to get hold of her for weeks after those conversations until her nephew requested the welfare check, the report states.

The medical examiner’s report listed her cause of death as “arteriosclerotic and hypertensive cardiovascular disease.”

Cara also had diabetes, which contributed to her death, according to the report. Officials said many types of medication were found at the scene but noted that she was “noncompliant with her treatment.”

Foul play is not suspected, authorities say. The report does not state exactly when she died.

Cara kept a low profile in her neighborhood, according to previous reporting by the Tampa Bay Times. Neighbors told officials before Cara’s they usually saw her about once a week taking out the trash, but they hadn’t seen her in weeks, the death investigation report said. One neighbor told a deputy she had “appeared sickly of late.”

Cara is most famous for starring roles in the movies “Flashdance” and “Fame.” She was awarded both an Oscar and Grammy for her song “What a Feeling” from “Flashdance.”

“She was a beautiful and gifted soul whose legacy will live forever through her music and her films,” Cara’s publicist, Judith A. Moose, wrote in a November statement announcing Cara’s death.