SILVER BELLS SPARKLE
Heather Lyn MacDonalds documentary, Been Rich All My Life, is about the Silver Belles (Bertye Lou Wood, Cleo Hayes, Marion Coles, Elaine Ellis, Fay Ray and Geri Kennedy), a troupe of spirited hoofers who tap danced in the chorus lines at the Apollo Theater, Cotton Club and other famous 1930s Harlem venues, and toured to Europe and South America with big band headliners.
Now in their 80s and 90s, their friendship having endured for some 70 years, these inspiring women are still performing in NY concert halls, where their spunky routines and feisty attitude garner standing ovations.However, delightful a film it is, Been Rich All My Life isnt all joy it also candidly reveals the hardships these dancers faced and overcame as young women of color, and those they now face in aging. The engaging individual stories of their lives and careers cover almost a century of one aspect of New Yorks African American history and culture including how they headed the strike against the Apollo Theater for higher wages that initiated establishment of the American Guild of Variety Artists, the nations first integrated performers union.
There’s fascinating historical footage, too.
Been Rich All My Lifes pure 80 minute infusion of spirit. A must-see. (Published in New York Press)