US actor John Travolta, famed for his dance routines in movies such as Saturday Night Fever and Pulp Fiction, faced a flurry of poor reviews after performing the chicken dance on Italian television.
The dance, in which people flap their elbows and shake their hips to imitate a chicken, is popular with children, but also features regularly at weddings and beer festivals.
Travolta, 69, performed it on Wednesday at Sanremo, an annual, glitzy song festival, looking stony-faced as he twisted and turned alongside two laughing TV hosts and flanked by a group of dancers dressed up in yellow chicken costumes.
One of the presenters quipped on TV that it resulted in “one of the ghastliest gags in Italian television history”.
“How to destroy a myth in a few seconds,” Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera said in a headline.
Daily newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano called it “one of the saddest things ever seen on television”.
Newspaper Il Giornale said it would “go down in the annals of the singing event for the embarrassment it generated”.
Italy’s main consumer group Codacons said it had asked for an investigation into whether there had been inappropriate product placement during the routine.
Travolta could not immediately be reached for comment by the Reuters news agency.
He was wearing a dark suit and tie, and an incongruous-looking pair of white shoes, made by an Italian company that the actor promotes in adverts.
State television RAI acknowledged it had made an “error” in not concealing the logo of the shoes. The footwear firm said in a statement it had not been involved in the TV performance.
Amadeus, the main Sanremo host, denied Travolta had been tricked into the dance, saying he was fully informed in advance.