Richest CelebritiesSingers
Net Worth:
$2 Million
Mar 18, 1959 - Nov 25, 2022 (63 years old)
The Bronx
5 ft 4 in (1.63 m)
Actor, Singer-songwriter, Record producer, Pianist, Dancer, Musician
United States of America
💰 Compare Irene Cara's Net Worth

What Is Irene Cara's Net Worth?

Irene Cara was an American actress and singer who had a net worth of $2 million at the time of her death in November 2022. Irene Cara won an Academy Award, Golden Globe, and Grammy for performing and co-writing the song "Flashdance… What a Feeling," which was featured in the 1983 film "Flashdance." Irene starred as Coco Hernandez in the 1980 musical drama "Fame," and she performed the title song, which reached #1 on the charts in several countries and earned Cara her first Grammy nomination.

Irene released the studio albums "Anyone Can See" (1982), "What a Feelin'" (1983), "Carasmatic" (1987), and "Irene Cara Presents Hot Caramel" (2011), and she performed in Broadway productions of "Maggie Flynn" (1968), "The Me Nobody Knows" (1970), "Via Galactica" (1972), and "Got Tu Go Disco" (1979). Cara appeared in the films "Sparkle" (1976), "Killing 'em Softly" (1982), "D.C. Cab" (1983), and "City Heat" (1984), the TV movie "Sister, Sister" (1982), the miniseries "Roots: The Next Generations" (1979), and the television series "Love of Life" (1970–1971). Irene voiced Snow White in the 1990 animated musical "Happily Ever After," and she also lent her voice to the films "Beauty and the Beast" (1992), "The Magic Voyage" (1992), and "The Jungle King" (1994).

Early Life

Irene Cara was born Irene Cara Escalera on March 18, 1959, in The Bronx, New York City. Her father, retired saxophonist Gaspar Escalera, was a factory worker, and her mother, Louise, worked as a movie usher. Irene's heritage is Cuban-American on her mother's side and Puerto Rican on her father's side. Cara has four older siblings, and at the age of 3, she was a finalist in the Little Miss America pageant. During her youth, Irene learned to play the piano by ear, and she studied acting, music, and dance. She began her performing career singing and dancing on Spanish-language television, and in the early '70s, she appeared on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" and was a member of The Short Circus band on the PBS series "The Electric Company." Cara recorded a Spanish-language album and an English-language Christmas album during her childhood, and she attended Manhattan's Professional Children's School.


Irene has performed in off-Broadway productions of the musicals "Ain't Misbehavin'" (1978), "The Wiz" (1980), and "Jesus Christ Superstar" (1993), and she made her onscreen acting debut as Daisy Allen on the CBS soap opera "Love of Life" in 1970. She appeared in the films "Aaron Loves Angela" (1975) and "Apple Pie" (1976), and she starred as the title role in the 1976 musical drama "Sparkle." Cara guest-starred on "Kojak" (1976) and "What's Happening!!" (1977), and she played Bertha Palmer Haley in the 1979 miniseries "Roots: The Next Generations," which won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Limited Series. She was named one of the "Promising New Actors of 1976" in "John Willis' Screen World, Vol. 28," and a "Right On!" magazine readers' poll named her the year's top actress. In 1980, Irene starred as Coco Hernandez in "Fame" and performed the songs "Fame" and "Out Here on My Own" in the film. Both songs earned their composers Academy Award nominations for Best Original Song, with "Fame" taking home the prize. "Fame" was certified Gold in Canada, France, the U.K., and the Netherlands, and it topped the "Billboard" Dance Club Songs chart and reached #1 in five other countries. "Out Here on My Own" reached #19 on the "Billboard" Hot 100 chart. Cara was named Top New Single Artist by "Billboard" and Top Female Vocalist and Most Promising Female Vocalist by "Cashbox Magazine."


In the '80s, Irene appeared in the TV movies "Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones" (1980) and "For Us the Living: The Medgar Evers Story" (1983) and the films "Killing 'em Softly" (1982), "Sister, Sister" (1982), "D.C. Cab" (1983), "City Heat" (1984), "Certain Fury" (1985), "Busted Up" (1986), and "Caged in Paradiso" (1989). She released her debut album, "Anyone Can See," in 1982, and it reached #76 on the "Billboard" 200 chart and #39 on the "Billboard" Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. In 1983, Irene had her biggest hit with "Flashdance… What a Feeling," which was certified 2× Platinum in Canada, Platinum in France, and Gold in the U.S., Denmark, and Italy. The song reached #1 on the charts in more than a dozen countries and earned Cara an Academy Award, Grammy, and Golden Globe. "Flashdance… What a Feeling" has been featured on lists such as "AFI's 100 Years … 100 Songs" (#55), the Recording Industry Association of America's "Songs of the Century" (#256), and "The 'Billboard' Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs" (#26).

In 1987, Irene released her third album, "Carasmatic" on Elektra Records, then she guest-starred on "Gabriel's Fire" (1991) and "Hearts Are Wild" (1992) and hosted the documentary short "Beyond Awareness to Action: Ending Abuse of Women" (1995). In 2004, she had a cameo in the film "Downtown: A Street Tale," and the following year, she competed on the NBC series "Hit Me, Baby, One More Time" and won the third round after performing "Flashdance… What a Feeling" and a cover of Anastacia's "I'm Outta Love" (which she performed with Hot Caramel, her all-female band). In 2006, her song "Forever My Love" was featured on the compilation album "Gay Happening Vol. 12," and in 2011, she released her fourth album, "Irene Cara Presents Hot Caramel."

"What a Feelin" Royalty Fight

Irene's 1983 album "What a Feelin'" included "Flashdance… What a Feeling," and by mid-1984, she had only received $183 in royalties from her record company, Network Records. Over the next few months, Network paid her around $60,000, but in 1985, Cara filed a lawsuit against the record company for $10 million in punitive damages, alleging that Network Records executive Al Coury had withheld $2 million in deals that involved "Flashdance… What a Feeling."

After filing the lawsuit, Irene noticed a change in the way she was being treated in the entertainment industry and suspected that Coury had begun a smear campaign against her. In 1993, a Los Angeles judge awarded Cara $1.5 million after concluding that her career had been damaged.

Personal Life

Irene married actor/film director/stuntman Conrad Palmisano on April 13, 1986, in Los Angeles, and they divorced five years later. Cara starred in Palmisano's 1986 film "Busted Up," and Conrad also directed the 1985 sci-fi Western "Space Rage."

Awards and Nominations

In 1984, Cara won an Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song for "Flashdance… What a Feeling." She won a Golden Globe for Best Original Song – Motion Picture for the track, and in 1981, she earned a Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical nomination for "Fame." That year she also received Grammy nominations for Best New Artist and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female for "Fame." In 1984, Irene won Grammys for Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Special for "Flashdance" and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female for "Flashdance… What a Feeling" and earned nominations for Album of the Year for "Flashdance (Original Soundtrack From The Motion Picture)" and Record of the Year for "Flashdance… What a Feeling." The song also won a National Music Publisher's Association Award for Best Song in a Movie and received a BAFTA Award nomination for Best Original Song. In 1982, Cara won an NAACP Image Award for Best Actress in a TV Movie, Miniseries or Drama Special for "Sister, Sister." In 2004, she was inducted into the Ciboney Cafe Hall of Fame, and she was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Prestige Awards.


Unfortunately, Irene Cara died on November 25, 2022 at the age of 63 at her home in Florida.

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