When it was reported that swinging Sixties singer/songwriter Burt Bacharach had died on Feb. 8 at the age of 94, most people thought of his iconic cameo in Austin Powers, playing “What the World Needs Now” atop a bus as Mike Myers and Elizabeth Hurley slow-danced. But Bacharach’s impact on popular culture stems far beyond his appearance in the Austin Powers franchise. Consider, for instance, this 1969 Tony Awards performance of “Turkey Lurkey Time” from Promises, Promises — Bacharach’s musical adaptation of Neil Simon’s The Apartment, coauthored with Simon and his longtime collaborator Hal David.
The first-act closing number, which takes place at an office holiday party, was choreographed by Michael Bennett and performed by secretaries Donna McKechnie (who later originated the role of Cassie in Bennett’s A Chorus Line), Margo Sappington, and Baayork Lee. With its high kicks, head bops, shoulder shimmies, and light-hearted, nonsensical lyrics (starting with “it’s turkey lurkey time/Tom Turkey ran away but he just came home”), “Turkey Lurkey Time” has become known as an iconic capsule from the 1960s Broadway musical era.
Though Promises, Promises is largely forgotten today (a short-lived Broadway revival featuring Sean Hayes was staged in 2010), “Turkey Lurkey Time” lives on. It was later recreated in the 2003 movie musical Camp, as well as a season four episode of Glee as part of a mash-up with “Let’s Have a Kiki.”
You can watch the original Tony Awards performance of “Turkey Lurkey Time” featuring Lee, Sappington, and McKechnie, as well as the Glee performance featuring Sarah Jessica Parker, below: