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Been Rich All My Life (2006)

Marion Coles , Cleo Hayes  |  NR |  DVD
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Marion Coles, Cleo Hayes, Fay Ray, Elaine Ellis (III), Berte Lou Wood
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • DVD Release Date: November 21, 2006
  • Run Time: 80 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,232 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Been Rich All My Life" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Dance Class: Learn the Shim Sham Shimmy
  • Interviews with the Director and Composer
  • Original Music Tracks
  • Photo Gallery

Editorial Reviews


Richly uplifting! Inspirational to young and old alike. --Hollywood Reporter

Marvelous! A real treasure. --The New Yorker

Charming subjects and a fine sense of history. Recommended! --New York Magazine

Product Description

Meet the Silver Belles, five tap dancers who performed in 1930’s Harlem at the famed Apollo and Cotton Club, with legendary band leaders like Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington. They have rich stories to tell about the history they made during the Harlem Renaissance, illuminated by a treasure trove of archival film and photos. Together again, after a few decades hiatus, they're dancing to standing ovations - as sassy as they ever were!

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Ladies - Fabulous Film October 21, 2006
I saw this film in a premier showing with the film maker and three of the Silver Belles present. The film was most entertaining and touching as you journey back in time with these wonderful, fiesty women. Their lives have been filled with struggles, triumphs and finally, well deserved recongnition. The audience laughed at their wit and marvelled at the story of their lives. They started their careers as very young women who were given a shot at show business in the 1930's in the hot spots of Harlem during it's Golden Age. The Cotton Club and the Apollo Theatre were their homes for many years. All of them give great credit to those who taught them 'the ropes'. They are still busy performing and passing along the heart of dance to the young dancers who are coming up today. I felt privileged to be taken on their journey and found myself, along with the rest of the audience, laughing at their tales of the old days and being touched with sadness at their losses and struggles. Better than being called 'survivors' they can be called triumphant and heroic. The sound track was wonderful and had everyone's feet tapping along. If you like dance, music, history, biography, show business or just a great story, I think you will thoroughly enjoy this film.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Been Rich All My Life January 15, 2007
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Energizing and encouraging! Wonderful peek into the history of tap and how great to keep going no matter how old one gets. I look at this over and over again. These black women dancers had to put up with a lot, but they are not dwelling on how hard it was. They are continuing on and teaching all of us about the wonders and joys of tap dancing. Even the spiciness is done with class.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational And Life Affirming May 25, 2008
BEEN RICH ALL MY LIFE is the story of five women who ranged in age from 84-96 at the time of filming. These ladies were chorus girls at the storied Harlem nightclubs such as The Savoy, Cotton Club and Apollo Theater during their heyday in the 1930's and 40s. Despite their advanced ages the women perform together as a group known as "The Silver Belles" and retain their senses of humor, love for performing and zest for life. The film lets us experience the decline and eventual demise of Bertye Lou, the oldest and perhaps sassiest of the group, and celebrate her life with her friends at a lively wake. We also see first hand the universal realities of old age all the women are realizing. Some history of Harlem and African American struggles in the 20th century are taught along the way but the former chorus girls and their personal lives remain the central theme. The movie is a bit unfocused at times but is still an inspirational story of the need to embrace life no matter what your current age or circumstance.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Silver Belles Rock! January 27, 2007
I love tap dance and used to do it myself, so this documentary really resonated with me. Loved seeing the old photos of the women as young dancers at the Cotton Club...and seeing them still hoofing into their 80's. It was very heart warming. I wish there were more old footage, and a little less of them riding the bus and hailing cabs. But overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the film and recommend it to anyone who loves dance.

Don't miss the dance lesson--learn the Shim Sham Shimmy!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CLASS PERSONIFIED!!!! July 1, 2010
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I 1st viewed this INCREDIBLE Documentary on ABC TV here in Australia over 1 year ago, & I've been searching for it to purchase ever since. I was absolutely thrilled to find that Amazon stocked it. It arrived today finally, only a week after I ordered it, & as soon as it was in my hands, it was playing. The Amazing Women in this Exceptional Documentary, show the TRUE Meaning of Friendship, Loyalty, Honesty, Camaraderie, & Humour, through Good times, Hard times, & in the end, Sad times. The Richness of their Lives together & apart, shines through constantly, & should be a Lesson of Life, for all us. These Women can Teach us ALL, what the True Meaning of a Life Well & Honestly Lived, is truly about, & to me personally, the History of their Working Lives, is just as important as their Family Lives, which are an integral part, of where they've come from, & where they are still, today.! These LADIES, & they are, TRUE LADIES, are Quite Simply, - "CLASS PERSONIFIED".!!!!!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delight! May 1, 2007
These ladies will make you smile with their mischievous humor and warmly told tales from their lives as dancers. A charming film, inspiring too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing lives of joy through dancing December 20, 2012
Been Rich All My Life is a touching, sweet and moving documentary that looks at The Silver Belles, a group of elderly women who danced in many famous Harlem nightclubs primarily during the 1930s. They were not shabby when they performed at The Savoy, The Cotton Club and The Apollo Theater with Cab Calloway, Jimmie Lunceford and Duke Ellington; and they still wow the audiences in this film! Their story moves along at a good pace; I was fascinated by what I saw and I cheered these ladies on as they put on their tap shoes and danced up a storm! I easily became attached to these fine people and I was sad to see some of them having to cope with difficulties associated with old age. The choreography and cinematography are fantastic; and the interviews with people like the current owner of The Cotton Club add color to their story. There are excellent black and white video clips; and the still photos are wonderful. In addition, the musical score enhances the film.

The five Silver Belles consist of Bertye Lou, Cleo, Elaine; Fay and Marion. Their manager, Geri Kennedy, protects them fiercely--as if they needed it! Geri admits that they essentially "manage themselves" but as they are aging I think it's great that a younger woman is looking out for them.

While it's terrific to see them triumph on the stage whenever they dance, it's sad to see them having to deal with life's struggles and especially some of the health issues associated with the aging process. After all, these ladies were between the ages of 84 and 96 when this was filmed! No longer dancing because she's afraid of falling, Bertye Lou refers to herself as "the orchestra" and her sister troopers still love her and cherish her as one of the group.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely ladies
Saw it on Netflix, loved it, and bought it. Here's the review I wrote on Netflix for it: You will fall in love with these senior citizen dancers. Read more
Published 6 months ago by va golfer
5.0 out of 5 stars A must Have!
I absolutely recommend this video to anyone who want to see what sexy and vibrant looks like at 80! Excellent to watch. Very entertaining!
Published 7 months ago by Jewelry Designs by Lori
5.0 out of 5 stars Get Ready to Laugh and Cry. You'll Love this Documentary!
Tapping at 80+ is incredible enough, but to watch these talented women and hear their stories is like nothing I've ever seen. They've had rich lives and I wanted to hear more. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Myra Jolivet
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, Inspirational & Passionate
I loved this documentary about the Silver Belles. I had heard about this troupe, but knew very little them collectively and individually. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Radiant Smiler
5.0 out of 5 stars Senior Chorus Girls: Dancing Triumphs In Old Age
BEEN RICH ALL MY LIFE is wonderful documentary featuring the 'Silver Belles', five former showgirls who once performed in chorus lines at the famed Apollo Theater, the Cotton Club,... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Maizie Lucille James
5.0 out of 5 stars Oldsters having fun
I really hope I have this spirit and energy when I get older. Had a family gathering to play this for our senior, senior members. Wonderful!
Published on February 22, 2012 by Jackie Wolf
5.0 out of 5 stars Been Rich All Of My Life
I just saw this movie and couldn't stop smiling. It was wonderful watching women 80+ living and enjoying life. It was great looking at the history of Americans not seen. Read more
Published on December 18, 2011 by Happy Grandmother
5.0 out of 5 stars Money isn't all it's cracked up to be.
A great look at a forgotten piece of history. Will show it to my grandchildren.
Published on February 10, 2010 by Just me
5.0 out of 5 stars Been Rich All My Life is a Joy to Watch
This film is beautifully realized. The history of these dancers and how much they've contributed individually and collectively is a joy to behold. Read more
Published on July 12, 2009 by JIMNYCLA
5.0 out of 5 stars A great African American history lesson
This DVD provides a great lesson in African American history. It is also inspiring and entertaining. The spirits of these women are phenomenal. Read more
Published on July 14, 2008 by B. Irby
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