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‘Austin Powers’ director on Bacharach cameos: ‘His song became the heart of our film’

A white-haired man wearing a scarf on the left and a man wearing a dark jacket on the right.
Burt Bacharach, the Grammy-, Oscar- and Tony-winning pop composer, left, and Jay Roach, film director, producer and screenwriter, collaborated on the “Austin Powers” movies.
(John Salangsang / Associated Press; Philip Cheung / For The Times)
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Ladies and gentleman, Mr. Burt Bacharach!

The celebrated pop composer made cameos in all three “Austin Powers” movies, with star Mike Myers throwing to him at the end of Jay Roach’s 1997 espionage spoof “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.” Bacharach, as himself, serenaded Myers’ titular spy and co-star Elizabeth Hurley while riding in an open-air tour bus making its way through the streets of Las Vegas.

Legendary singer Dionne Warwick said that despite her tiffs with late composer Burt Bacharach, they always let each other know they were like family.

In a tribute to the 94-year-old Bacharach, who died Wednesday, the “Bombshell” and “Recount” filmmaker reflected on shooting the final scene of his sophomore film with the legendary musician.

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“On the last night of filming, Burt Bacharach performed ‘What the World Needs Now Is Love’ over and over, sitting at a piano on top of a double decker bus going up and down the Vegas strip, while Mike and Elizabeth danced,” Roach said in a Thursday email to The Times.

“The early takes were great, but I couldn’t bring myself to say, ‘cut, move on’— it was just too sublime. We only stopped when the sun came up,” he added. “Elizabeth, Mike and I all went up and kissed Burt with tears in our eyes. That night his song became the heart of our film. Burt’s love — which the world does desperately need — will live on through his music, as will our love for Burt.”

Legendary singer Dionne Warwick said that despite her tiffs with late composer Burt Bacharach, they always let each other know they were like family.

While his indelible music earned him three Oscars and six Grammys, Bacharach’s cameos endeared him to a new generation of fans. They also became one of the best running gags in the “Austin Powers” franchise. Bacharach returned for the 1999 sequel to perform “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” with Elvis Costello and made a brief appearance in the closing credits of “Austin Powers in Goldmember” (2002) — both also directed by Roach.

“Because Burt’s songs were so essentially aligned with Austin’s own personal mantras, Burt had to be part of every film,” Roach said. “Mike just kept writing great moments for him and Burt kept showing up! We felt so lucky to get to collaborate with the maestro.”

A representative for Myers did not immediately respond Thursday to The Times’ requests for comment.

Bacharach’s “I’ll Say a Little Prayer for You” — one of many hits he wrote for Dionne Warwick with his songwriting partner Hal David — also notably got the big-screen treatment in 1997. The classic 1967 song found its way to new listeners when Rupert Everett dutifully performed it for Julia Roberts in “My Best Friend’s Wedding” and initiated the romantic comedy’s memorable impromptu sing-along.

The composer earned Academy Awards for the song “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” and scoring 1969’s “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” as well as composing “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” from 1981’s “Arthur.” Bacharach also was given the Recording Academy’s 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award and the 1997 Grammys Trustees Award.

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