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July 26, 1948
Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, UK
Life and career
Vitali was born Alfred Leon in 1948 in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England, and went on to attend London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Vitali guest-starred in a number of TV series in the early 1970s, appearing in Softly, Softly, Follyfoot, Roads to Freedom, Z Cars, Public Eye, The Fenn Street Gang, series 1, and Notorious Woman among others. In 1973, he made his feature film debut in two movies: the Italian Si può essere più bastardi dell'ispettore Cliff? (directed by Massimo Dallamano, who had previously worked with Sergio Leone as a cinematographer in the first two of his Dollars Trilogy) and the TV-film Catholics, next to Martin Sheen and Michael Gambon.
It wasn't until 1975 that Vitali met Stanley Kubrick, with whom he would go on to have a professional relationship for the rest of Kubrick's career. Vitali answered a cast call for Barry Lyndon and got the part of Lord Bullingdon, the title character's stepson. Kubrick and Vitali bonded during the shoot. Five years later, Kubrick sent Vitali a copy of Stephen King's The Shining and asked him to join the production of Kubrick's next film, to which Vitali eagerly agreed. He is credited in The Shining (1980) as "personal assistant to director".
In 1977, he portrayed Victor Frankenstein in Terror of Frankenstein, Calvin Floyd's adaptation of Mary Shelley's classic Frankenstein, where he met his future wife Kersti Vitali, who worked as costume designer in the shoot. The Vitalis then worked as costume designers in Birgitta Svensson's Mackan, after which Leon played a bit part in Svensson's next film, Inter Rail (1981). Leon and Kersti would divorce later on.
Vitali teamed once more with Stanley Kubrick for Full Metal Jacket (1987), where he served both as casting director and assistant to director. Twelve years later, Vitali was credited with the same titles in working with Kubrick in what would be Kubrick's last movie, Eyes Wide Shut (1999), where Vitali also played the ominous Red Cloak who confronts Tom Cruise's character during the infamous orgy sequence. Vitali's name can actually be seen in the third column of the newspaper article that Cruise's character reads to learn about the former beauty queen's hotel drugs overdose. Vitali's cameo is billed as a "fashion designer".
Since Kubrick's death, Vitali has overseen the restoration of both picture and sound elements for most of Kubrick's films. In 2004, Vitali was honored with the Cinema Audio Society's President's Award for this work.
In 1999, Vitali and filmmaker Todd Field, with whom he appeared in Eyes Wide Shut, began discussing the possibility of making films together. Vitali is credited as "technical consultant" on Field's In the Bedroom (2001), and as "associate producer" on Field's Little Children (2006), where he also made a cameo appearance as "The Oddly Familiar Man".
He played the apothecary in Carlo Carlei's Romeo and Juliet (2013).