By People Staff
May 10, 1999 12:00 PM

Take it from one international man of mystery to another. “Burt Bacharach is the ultimate cool American,” says Mike Myers, who cast the Oscar-and-Grammy-winning songwriter in his 1997 film Austin Powers (and in this summer’s sequel). “He’s laid-back with that cool, husky voice. Chicks find him dreamy.”

Or let rocker Elvis Costello recount how women were “falling all over themselves when they saw him” as the two collaborated on the Painted from Memory album last year. “Plenty of people are good-looking, but with Burt, there’s a grace to him. He has that light in the eyes, a sense of vitality.”

Heck, even Angie Dickinson, whose 16-year marriage to Bacharach ended in 1981, still sees his appeal. “He woos without even trying,” she says. “Not only is he devastating-looking, but he has this gentility about him, with lots of strength but also a softness, like a prizefighter carrying flowers.”

At 70, Bacharach takes good care of himself. He avoids red meat and sugar and is devoted to his Water Pik. “Teeth are important,” he warns. He also puts in a minimum of 30 to 40 minutes of exercise a day, either on a StairMaster or running in the ocean near his home in Pacific Palisades, Calif. “He looks great out there running up to his waist in the water,” says his fourth wife, Jane, 41, with whom he has a son, Oliver, 6, and a daughter, Raleigh, 3. (Bacharach also has a 32-year-old daughter with Dickinson and a 13-year-old son with third wife Carole Bayer Sager.)

Once called “a ladies’ man” by no less than Marlene Dietrich (the pair toured together in the late 1950s and early ’60s), Bacharach didn’t start out that way. Growing up in the Forest Hills section of Queens, N.Y., the 5’8″ composer agonized over his small stature (other kids called him “Shorty” and “Pee Wee”). Even after he visited Dickinson in 1965 on the set of The Chase, her costar Marlon Brando “came up to me and said, ‘Hmmm, I’m surprised you picked him,’ ” she recalls. But Bacharach is glowing in his golden years. “I feel really good about myself now,” he says. “It just took a while to kick in.”