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Elaine Lee
Elaine Joyce Knoesen

23 February 1939
Springs, Transvaal, Province, South Africa
Died 17 September 2014 (aged 75)
Occupation Actress
Spouse(s) Garth Meade (1970-1976)

Elaine Joyce Knoesen (23 February 1939 – 17 September 2014) better known professionally as Elaine Lee, was a South African-born actress of radio and theatre and stage. She made her film debut in her native South Africa in 1968, but became best known in Australia for her role of fashion designer Vera Collins in the 1970s television soap opera Number 96.


Lee was born in 1939 in Springs, Transvaal Province (present-day Gauteng), and grew up on a gold mine until her father, an electrician, died when she was nine. She was brought up by her mother and had a sister Barbara. A former waitress, her acting career began in the 1960s in Johannesburg where she became a stage manager for a theatrical company and acted extensively in the theatre and on radio, starring in productions throughout her native South Africa, as well as Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Lee emigrated to Australia where she became well known Vera Collins in Number 96, starting in 1972. Lee was an original cast member of the series and a key figure in many of the show's major storylines. Lee remained in the role of Vera for four and a half years, finally leaving in mid-1976.

A planned comedy spinoff from Number 96, called Fair Game and featuring Lee with Lynette Curran and Abigail, did not eventuate. Its pilot was divided up to create segments of three episodes of Number 96 (Episodes 1079-1081, airing in Sydney, November 1976).

Soon after leaving Number 96 Lee was cast as headmistress Margaret Gibson in Glenview High, which ran between 1977-78. She then appeared in several productions of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, in TV movies and panel shows, and made guest appearances in drama series such as A Country Practice. She also continued her stage work, including the challenging one-woman show Turn on the Heat, loosely based on the last two hours of Marilyn Monroe's life.

Lee made sporadic appearances in Australian feature films during the 1990s. In 1997, she played a regular role in the critically panned Kingswood Country spin-off situation comedy Bullpitt!, and she had a recurring role in Heartbreak High.

In the 2000s Lee continued to make occasional appearances in Australian films and drama series, and she opened an acting school in Sydney with Judi Farr. In 2001 she appeared in the medical drama All Saints and in 2005 acted in soap opera Home and Away. Lee also presented a commentary on the 2006 DVD release of Number 96

Personal life

Lee married South African-born Australian actor and comedian Garth Meade, with whom she had emigrated to Australia, in 1970. The marriage ended in divorce in 1976. Meade died of cancer in 2002, aged 77. A spiritual woman, Lee took up tarot card reading like her Number 96 character, and had a strong belief in reincarnation and the occult. Lee was a heavy smoker and suffered from related health issues including emphysema and subsequently had to use an oxygen tank. In her later years she fractured her hip, she died, aged 75, on 17 September 2014 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Elaine Lee at the time of Number 96, was a neighbour of actresses Gwen Plumb and her partner, actress Thelma Scott



Year Title Role Type
1968 Dr. Kalie Marge Film debut, South Africa
1969 Petticoat Safari unknown role Film, South Africa
1974 Number 96 Vera Collins Feature film
1979 Detective Philip Vernay Role unknown Film short
1994 The Sum of Us Woman on Train Feature film
1994 Dallas Doll Mrs Winthrop Feature film
2000 Sunday Gwen Film short
2006 Photograph Lydia Film short


Year Title Role Type
1971 Diamantendetektiv Dick Donald Marion Kingsley TV series, GERMANY (season 1, episode 7)
1973 The Evil Touch Marion Field TV series (season 1, episode 13)
1972-1976 Number 96 Vera Collins / Vera Sutton TV series
1976 Fair Game TV pilot
1976 Number 96: And They Said It Wouldn’t Last Herself as Host / Vera Collins TV special
1977 Gone to Ground Grace Ferguson TV film
1977 Number 96: The Final Episode Herself TV special
1977-1978 Glenview High Margaret Gibson TV series (39 episodes)
1980 Spring And Fall Socialite ABC TV series, 1 episode
1982;1993 A Country Practice Lillian Saunders
Laurel Davies
April Patterson
TV series (12 episodes)
1982 M.P.S.I.B. Lola Birch ABC TV series, 1 episode
1983 Cop Shop Faith Bloomfield TV series, 1 episode
1984 Supersleuth Harriet Barker TV film
1985 Anzacs Madame TV miniseries, 4 episodes
1987 Olive Elaine ABC TV film
1989 Rafferty's Rules Mrs. Prattley TV series, 1 episode
1992 The Morning Show Herself with Belinda Giblin TV series, 1 episode
1992 The Midday Show Herself & Belinda Giblin TV series, 1 episode
1993 Tonight Live Herself TV series, 1 episode
1996 Good Morning Australia Herself TV series, 1 episode
1997-1998 Heartbreak High Maria Costello TV series (5 episodes)
Bullpitt! Joan Collins TV series (26 episodes)
1998 Burke’s Backyard Herself TV series, 1 episode
1999 Bondi Banquet Drusilla Owens TV series
2000 Flipper unknown role TV series, 1 episode US
2000 Dogwoman: Dead Dog Walking Freda Bell TV film
2001 All Saints Phyllis Martin TV series (Season 4, episode 11)
2002 The Best Of Aussie Drama Herself TV special
2005 Home and Away Joy Foxton TV series (9 episodes)
BlackJack: In The Money Astrologer TV film
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