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When 'Fame' star loathed fame: Inside Irene Cara's last days as neighbors reveal she became a 'recluse'

'I didn't even know it was her living there until a few years ago. It was the best-kept secret ever,' said a neighbor
Singer and actress Irene Cara, 63, was found dead inside her Largo, Florida on November 25 (theirenecara/Instagram)
Singer and actress Irene Cara, 63, was found dead inside her Largo, Florida on November 25 (theirenecara/Instagram)

LARGO, FLORIDA: Academy Award-winning singer and actress Irene Cara lived like a hermit and was obsessive with her own privacy, claimed the star's neighbors. The 63-year-old songstress was found dead inside her Florida home on November 25. However, neighbors of 'Fame' singer say, she appeared to live a life that was totally the opposite. 

"She was a recluse. She didn't talk to anyone," Roseann Nolan, who lived across the street from Cara, told New York Post. "I didn't even know it was her living there until a few years ago. It was the best-kept secret ever." Another neighbor who also lived next door to her for years also tried to befriend without even knowing who she was, claiming the Oscar-winning singer was a recluse and would never agree to meet up. 


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"I'd text her or call her to invite her to come for a walk but I wouldn't hear back for days," Maria Contreras, 59, told NY Post. "She'd never call back using her cellphone. She called from her computer because she was worried about privacy. She didn't look well and she said she had health issues." Conteras noted that the only person to ever show up at the hitmaker's home was a gardener who should show up to mow the lawn. "No one, including him, ever went inside her house. She greeted you outside by the garage."


"She got very angry with me when I took down a fence between our houses because I wanted to put a new one up. She sent me such crazy messages that I saved them on my phone. She was worried that she wouldn't be safe with the fence down, even for a day," Contreras explained. The hit ’80s singer-songwriter-actress rep and her manager of almost 20 years, Judith Moose and Betty McCormick said the singer was really affected by Covid-19. "She was very afraid of getting the COVID virus," McCormick said told NY Post. "She really struggled during that period." Cara's rep claimed she decided to get out of the movie and music business on her own terms. 


"Women in music can be a lot more than just the midriff, the bellybutton, the bleached hair, the lip-synching,'" Cara said in a TV interview at the time. "I wanted to make a statement that women in music can be sexy and alluring and fabulous and hop and cool and be about music, just the music." Born in the Bronx, the performer 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. Shortly, she was shunned from the spotlight after suing her former record company during the 1990s over her earnings. Cara was awarded $1.5 million by a California jury in 1993. However, in recent years it was known that Cara was planning a revival. When confirming Cara's death, Moose wrote, "She was a beautifully gifted soul whose legacy will live forever through her music and films."