Been Rich All My Life
|Release Date:||July 21, 2006|
|Running time:||81 minutes|
|Cast:||Bertye Lou Wood, Cleo Hayes, Marion Coles, Elaine Ellis, Fay Ray|
|Producer:||Heather MacDonald, Margaret Whitton|
|Distributor:||First Run Features|
Description: This documentary follows the most unlikely troupe of tap dancers you're likely to meet, the Silver Belles, five former showgirls who danced at the Apollo and other legendary Harlem venues in the 1930s-40s. It is little remembered that these young women led the historic first strike by African American performers. They walked out of the Apollo one Saturday night in a successful bid for higher wages and established the American Guild of Variety Artists, for black and white performers nationwide. The Silver Belles have rich stories to tell about the history they made dancing at Harlem's legendary venues--the Cotton Club, Connie's Inn, Small's Paradise. They toured the world, were honored abroad, and danced on the first black USO tour (when they stole the "for colored only" signs off the trains they rode in America's Jim Crow south). When the big band era ended, and with it the need for show dancers, they went into other work, until they put their shoes back on in 1985, and kept on dancing. Now aged 84 to 96, they have been performing together to standing ovations at places like Carnegie Hall for the past 20 years, as sassy as they ever were.
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