Ellie Lambeti

Ellie Lambeti (Έλλη Λαμπέτη ) real name Ellie Loukou (Έλλη Λούκου )(April 13, 1926 – September 3, 1983) was a Greek actor.

Born 1926 in Greece, her father was Kostas Loukos, who owned a Greek tavern in the village of Villia Attikis; her mother was Anastasia Stamati. Ellie Loukou had 6 siblings. Her maternal grandfather was a man known as Captain Stamatis who fought together with Kolokotronis against the Turks in 1821, when the modern Greek democracy was created. In 1928, the family moved to Athens.

Early career

In 1941, she was rejected from two theatre schools: the state one, named Ethniko and one private named after one great Greek actress Kotopouli. But Kotopouli herself recognized Loukou's talent and hired her. She soon became Kotopouli's favourite. Kotopouli even let her read the letters Ion Dragoumis, a Greek politician, wrote to Kotopouli during their love affair in the beginning of the 20th century. Loukou adopted the surname Lambeti, from a book named Astrapogiannos by the author Balaoritis.

Soon, Lambeti became a female lead actress, and she starred in plays like Hanneles Himmelfahrt by Hauptmann. Kotopouli did not let Lambeti fix her pronunciation, although she could not pronounce the letter 'r' of the Greek alphabet. In 1941, her twin brother died, in 1944 her mother also - by a bullet. In 1945, she met Marios Ploritis, her future husband, during the filming one of her first films, that she really hated, the film Adoulotoi sklavoi (1946).

In 1946 Lambeti became one of the actresses that played for the famous modern theatre director Karolous Koun; she was the female lead in the following productions:

  • The Glass Menagerie by Williams in 1946
  • Antigone by Anouilh in 1947
  • Bodas de sangre by Lorca in 1948

She gained critical acclaim and was recognized as one of the greatest actresses in Greece. In 1948 she was directed by Kostas Mousouris, Koun's rival, a traditional director. In the same year she fell in love with Alekos Alexandrakis, a younger actor who gained popularity in the following decades, a handsome and talented young man.

1950-1960's

In August 1950, she married Marios Ploritis, but their marriage collapsed in 1952 when she worked and fell in love with Dimitris Horn. Her love affair lasted for many years. They are one of the most loved theatre couples in Greece even now, after their deaths. Together they produced and played in theatre in Libelei in 1953, in La Cuisine des Anges in 1953, in L'Invitation au Chateau in 1955, in Quality street in 1956, in The Rainmaker by Richard Nash in 1956, in Gigi in 1957, in the Fourposter in 1957, in Two for the Seesaw by Gibson in 1958 and in 1959 in Dans sa Candeur Naive. By then, their affair was dead and they followed different paths. Although they claimed that they would work again soon, they never did.

The following years were tragic for Lambeti. Her sister Koula died from cancer in 1955, her sister Eirini by a road accident in 1958 and she lost a baby by Horn in 1956. The only sunshine came in 1959 when she met the American author, Frederic Wakeman, who became her next husband. By then, Lambeti was also the star of Cacoyannis' Greek masterpieces like Kyriakatiko xypnima (1954), To Koritsi me ta mavra (1956), and To Telefteo psemma (1957). She will be always remembered for another film of the 50s directed by Giorgos Tzavellas named Kalpiki lira (1955), in which she starred together with Dimitris Horn. Lambeti continued her theatrical career, in 1962 came The Heiress, in 1965 as Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire, but in 1960 her sister Foteini also died from cancer, leading Lambeti to fear she would also die from the same illness.

Late life and career

The 70s was a tough decade for Lambeti, although she gained critical acclaim and massive popularity in The Little Foxes in 1973, in Irma La Douce in 1972, Miss Margarita in 1975, and Filoumena Martourano in 1978. Lambeti was involved in a legal procedure about the adoption of a girl named Eliza, from Spring 1970 till 1974, when she lost and gave the child back to its parents.

The subsequent years were a fight, or a war against cancer. She successfully starred in theatre productions like Wilder's Hello Dolly in 1980 and in 1981 as Sarah in Meddof's Children of a Lesser God, but her health was poor, and soon she lost her voice. Lambeti died from cancer in the United States in 1983, leaving the theatre life of Greece poorer without her.

In the decade of 1990 her career was revalued and Lambeti, together with other Greek actresses, like Melina Mercouri, Tzeni Karezi, and Katina Paxinou, is really missed. Her biography was written by her good friend Fredy Germanos, and was a best seller.

Ellie Lambeti

References

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