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Lambeti was born in 1926 in the village of Vilia, Attiki, to Kostas Loukos and Anastasia Stamati. She had six siblings. Her maternal grandfather was a 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. During the war of 1940 she moved to the big neoclassical style house on Delphon and Didotou street where she had been living all her life. During the Dekemvriana in December 1944, her mother, who was in the house at the time, was killed by a loose shot fired amidst the battle. This took a significant psychological toll on Lambeti, that lasted well into her adult life.
Ellie studied theatre at Marika Kotopouli's drama school. She made her first steps on the stage at the time of German occupation of Greece. She passed this difficult period as all her theatre colleges.
In 1941, she was rejected from two theatre schools: the state one (Ethniko) and a private one named for the Greek actress Marika Kotopouli, who recognized Lambeti's talent and hired her.
This article may be confusing or unclear to readers. In particular, it says at first she was rejected by two theatre schools, then it turns out the second one (the private theatre school) actually accepted her. (November 2018) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
She adopted the professional surname Lambeti and became a lead actress. She starred in Hanneles Himmelfahrt by Hauptmann. In 1945, she met Marios Ploritis, her future husband, during the filming one of her first films, Adoulotoi sklavoi (1946).
In 1946 Lambeti became one of the actresses that played for the famous modern theatre director Karolos Koun; she was the female lead in the Greek productions of the following plays:
- The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams (1946)
- Antigone by Anouilh (1947)
- Bodas de sangre by Lorca (1948)
She didn’t act in many films but those in which she did act were deemed to be classical.
In August 1950, she married Marios Ploritis, but their marriage collapsed in 1952 when she had a love affair with Dimitris Horn. Together they produced and played in theatre in Libelei in 1953, in La Cuisine des Anges in 1953, in L'Invitation au Château 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 William Gibson in 1958 and in 1959 in Dans sa Candeur Naive. The following years were dramatic for Ellie: her sister Koula died from cancer in 1955, her other sister Eirini died in a car crash in 1958, and Ellie lost a baby by Horn in 1956. In 1959 she met her American husband, Frederic Wakeman, Sr. She starred in Michael Cacoyannis's Greek masterpieces like Kyriakatiko xypnima (1954), To Koritsi me ta mavra (1956), and To Telefteo psema (1957). She also starred in Kalpiki lira (1955) by George Tzavellas. Lambeti continued her theatrical career, in 1962 came The Heiress, in 1965 as Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire.
Late life and career
In the 1970s Lambeti starred in The Little Foxes (1973), Irma La Douce (1972), Miss Margarita (1975) and Filoumena Martourano (1978). And in spite of her success at theater her personal life was a fiasco: Ellie 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 against cancer. She successfully starred in theatre productions like Thornton Wilder's Hello, Dolly! (1980) and as Sarah in Mark Medoff's Children of a Lesser God (1981), but her health was poor. She died in 1983 from throat cancer in New York City, aged 57.