22 October 1934|
Sitia, Crete, Greece
|Died||6 August 1999
Her mother originated in Kalymnos and her father in Izmir. As a child, her father, a Partisan was killed in the 1946-49 civil war on Crete where she had been born and bred. Her mother moved with her three children to the port of Piraeus to try to make ends meet.
At 12, she left school to help earn a living for her family selling bread and lemons in a cart she pushed around Piraeus's desolate streets. Later, in the poverty-stricken 50s, she worked in factories; and when the going got really tough - after her first marriage foundered - she gathered garbage at the slums' rubbish dump. In the late 1960s, she met her second husband, a wrestler who fell for her as she mesmerized an audience in Salonika. The couple married within a year and Sakellariou settled down to bring up three more sons.
Throughout these years, she continued to sing in the Queen Ann, a nightclub her husband had established on the National Road out of Athens. The 70s saw a series of hits, including Kathe Iliovasilema (Every Sunset) and Oi Andres kai oi Handres (Men and Beads). She remained popular, though her efforts to follow music trends through the 1980s and 1990s failed to match her earlier success. She had numerous hits, including "Istoria Mou, Amartia Mou", "An Kano Atakti Zoi", "Aftos O Anthropos", "Paranomi Mou Agapi" and "Ena Tragoudi". On 14 March 2010, Alpha TV ranked Sakellariou the 17th top-certified female artist in the nation's phonographic era (since 1960).
Sakellariou died on 6 August 1999, aged 64 after a yearlong battle with pancreatic cancer, after spending 40 days at Ygeia Hospital in Athens after returning from treatment at Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.
According to a friend, her last words were, "Oh Lakis, and I had so much yet to do!" She was survived by four sons and a daughter, two children from her first marriage, and three children from the second. She was buried on 9 August in the First Cemetery of Athens.
- In the 1973 blockbuster The Exorcist, Jason Miller starred as Greek American Father Damien Karras, one of the priests who exorcised young Regan. In one scene, Karras’ mother, played by Greek actress Vasiliki Maliaros, is listening to a Greek radio station broadcasting the song Istoria mou, amartia mou.
- Obituary, theguardian.com, 16 August 1999; accessed 16 August 2015.
- Chart Show: Your Countdown (14 March 2010), Alpha TV.
- Death of Rita Sakellariou, rizospastis.gr; accessed 16 August 2015.
- Ο Καρατζαφέρης νοσηλεύεται με σοβαρή νόσο στο Ιατρικό κέντρο, dealnews-gr.blogspot.co.il; accessed 16 August 2015.(Greek)
- "Η ζωή της ντίβας στο σανίδι", newsnow.gr; accessed 16 August 2015.(Greek)
- "Το τέλος μιας "ιστορίας", rizospastis.gr; accessed 16 August 2015.(Greek)
- "Μία παράσταση ιστορίας, αμαρτίας (και άτακτης ζωής)", nemeapress.blogspot.co.il; accessed 16 August 2015.(Greek)