Long-time Stanley Kubrick partner and associate Leon Vitali died on Friday, August 19, at the age of 74, in Los Angeles. His death was verified by his family to the Associated Press. The actor was accompanied by his three children, Masha, Max, and Vera, at the moment of his death. While the family did not reveal the cause of death, it was stated that Vitali died quietly.
Following his death, Masha Vitali issued the following statement to the Associated Press:
“Leon was a wonderful and charming guy who brought love and warmth everywhere he went, inspired by his curiosity.” He will be fondly remembered and much regretted by the many individuals he touched.”
All about Leon Vitali
Leon Vitali was an English actor best known for his appearances in Stanley Kubrick films such as Barry Lyndon in 1977 and Eyes Wide Shut in 1999. He also worked as an assistant to Kubrick on The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, and Eyes Wide Shut, among other films.
Leon Vitali has been regarded as Stanley Kubrick’s right-hand guy throughout the years. They met in 1974, perhaps during the filming of Barry Lyndon (in which Vitali portrayed Lord Bullingdon). Following their initial cooperation, Vitali is said to have formed a relationship with Kubrick throughout the production and was subsequently requested to join the legendary director for his adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining. Vitali worked as an assistant to Kubrick throughout production.
Later, in 1987’s Full Metal Jacket, Vitali worked as both casting director and Kubrick’s assistant. Vitali was the casting director and Kubrick’s assistant again in his last picture, 1990’s Eyes Wide Shut, and he again portrayed Red Cloak. A newspaper prop also served as an Easter egg for Vitali in the film. An item in the newspaper read by Tom Cruise’s character, Dr. William Harford, refers to Vitali as “fashion designer Leon Vitali.”
According to Tony Zierra’s 2017 documentary Vitali, Filmworker, the English actor managed the restoration of Stanley Kubrick’s films after his death. The documentary said that Vitali emphasized his position as a personal aide to Kubrick above his acting career.
The Associated Press reports:
“Vitali even rigged up a video monitor so Kubrick could keep an eye on his dying pet once.”
The debut of Leon Vitali in the industry
From 1970 through 2018, the late 74-year-old attended the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and worked in movies. Leon Vitali had been in a couple of TV programs in one-off parts in the early 1970s before being cast in The Fenn Street Gang in 1971. In 16 episodes, he played the role of Peter Craven.
Vitali played Victor Frankenstein in the legendary 1977 film Terror of Frankenstein, two years after his first work with Stanley Kubrick. Vitali met his future wife, costume designer Kersti Vitali (née Gustafsson), while working on the picture. They have three kids together. While it has not been proven, Kersti’s IMDb page indicates that the two divorced at some time.