Monday, February 18, 2013

Documentary: Been Rich All My Life

Been Rich All My Life
"Been Rich All My Life" (2006)

I watched the five most beautiful women that I have laid my eyes on in a very long time. It has been a dew days since I have finished watching this documentary and their lives still haunt me. I am still thinking about them, wondering how the surviving women are and wonder if people will continue to dance like they did. I say this because these women were a part of history...American History. I cannot tell you how appreciative I am to Heather MacDonald who is the one who created this documentary. Because of her, we now all can view a piece of history and never forget!
The film centers around these five amazing women; Bertye Lou Wood, Cleo Hayes, Elaine Ellis, Fay Ray, and Marion Coles. They each were chorus dancers during the late 1920's and 1930's, mainly at the Apollo and the Cotton Club. Yes, I just wrote the Apollo and the Cotton Club! If anyone knows anything about New York, they should know that those two spots were the swinging spots in Harlem during those times. They were the place to be for the best entertainment in New York City.
Here is Bertye Lou Wood (Bertha) at her first professional job in 1928 with the famous Addison Cary as her dance director. Bertye Lou as her friends called her knew Bill Robinson (Bojangles) and Duke Ellington! Imagine knowing those great artists, I mean having worked with them too. Swoon!
Bertye Lou raised three sons on her own and danced for over twenty years. When people stopped hiring chorus dancers she eventually became a bartender as did most of the ladies from The Silver Belles. She danced well into her 90's and then when she couldn't dance anymore she would show up at the rehearsals and cheer her friends on.
The group was brought together by Geri Kennedy who recognized that many of the men from those times were remembered but the women weren't. So she got Bertye Lou, Cleo, Elaine, Fay and Marion together to perform starting in 1985. At the time they were in their 70's and 80's and it didn't stop them from putting on their dancing shoes and glittery outfits and put on one heck of a show!
You not only learn about these incredible women but you also learn about the history they made during the Harlem Renaissance. I loved hearing the stories the women would share because they were sharing our collective history. The history of NY, the history of women, the history of America....I am so grateful that this documentary was made because today only two out of the five Silver Belles are with us.

I don't want to give too much away but I highly, highly recommend you viewing this when you have the chance. Each of these women will stay in your heart and you will never forget them. I know I never will. Watching this made me wish I knew them, made me wish I could have heard their stories in person. And that is a testament to their love of life and their vivacious spirits.

You can learn more about these women on TootsCrackin. I may have to consider doing a giveaway soon about this documentary-that's how much I loved it hehe

Have you seen this documentary? What do you think about these women?



  1. I have never seen it, but I may have to! Is it on Netflix?

    I know since we are NYers it has more of a personal touch for us, but a lot of people don't realize how NYC is a part of their lives, history, and this country's culture. I sure need to find it and watch! Thanks for the recommendation!


    Veronica Vintage

  2. Oh Bunny!!! You just got me all in a tizzy!!! MUST see this! Thanks for bringing this to my attention!!!! So excited. Where did you see it?

  3. Thank you for posting about this documentary! It sounds like a wonderful film. I've added it to my Netflix queue :)

  4. This documentary is new to me and truly sounds like something I'd love to see. Thank you very much for the fascinating introduction to these inspiring, talented ladies. I'm truly going to try and watch this doc asap if I can find it up here.

    ♥ Jessica

  5. I have never seen it, but I definitely want to. It is totally up my alley. I love the music and dancing of that era!!

    Thanks for the heads-up!

  6. So glad you girls are interested in seeing it-it will life up your soul-its magical! xox

  7. I have never seen it, but now I want to!!


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