He was indispensable. A secretary, a courier, an estate manager, but most of all, he was a driver. The reliable driver of the famous Hollywood director, Stanley Kubrick. This is the story of Emilio D’Alessandro, the Italian that Kubrick trusted more than his own family.
The man behind the cameras of the horror “The Shinning”, “A Clockwork Orange” and “Full Metal Jacket”, Stanley Kubrick, met Emilio D’Alessandro in 1971. Starting that moment, they were inseparable.
The man who grew up in a small farming village in Cassino, Italy, before heading for England to avoid military service, worked as a mechanic in UK. He learned everything there was to learn about cars and, at one point, he found himself competing against legends like Emerson Fittipaldi, James Hunt and Niki Lauda, who were all designed to join the grand Formula 1 competition later on.
But things did not work out for him and, while others kept making steps forward in the motorsport, he was left behind. He met Stanley Kubrick in 1971, in a moment of harsh recession. Back then, Kubrick was already known for his lavish taste for Mercedes-Benz.
He suspected an actor of meaning to steal his Mercedes
In the late ’50, while he was working on the set of “Paths of Glory”, the director decided to buy a Mercedes-Benz. It was a first for him.
He had a long series of Mercedes models. Unfortunately, not all of them ended up as they deserved. A gold 450 SEL had been crashed into his own house by the director himself. While working on the set of “The Shinning”, Kubrick bought a red 350 SE, that was used more for production purposes.
Emilio D’Alessandro remembers that Kubrick used to say that Mercedes was the perfect car: powerful yet quiet, spacious inside without being too big on the outside.
The Italian also brings in mind a white 280 SEL. The actor who played leading roles in “Barry Lyndon” (1976, directed by Kubrick) and the notorious “Love Story” (1976), Ryan O’Neal, loved that Benz so much, that Kubrick decided to get a bodyguard. That was actually more of a car guard. He was concerned O’Neal wanted to steal his Mercedes together with his driver, Emilio. To overcome the tension, Kubrick gave the actor a car just the same.
A Benz for the cats and a yellow submarine
The director loved cats. He adored them, actually. So, not only once, Emilio became the driver for his cats. Of one of them in particular. The meowing passenger Victoria, Stanley’s favorite, had to be driven to the doctor and back, in the gold 450 SEL, several times, in 1996. The furry occupant loved every moment of it.
And Kubrick was definitely the man of hasty decisions. Cars came and went all the time, but the faithful driver stayed.
Emilio has a bitter sweet memory on how Kubrick decided to buy a new Benz once. With a passion for the McDonald’s Big Macs, one day, he threw the paper wrap through the open sunroof, but the garbage came right back at him. “This car isn’t much good”, he said swearing. And decided to buy another Mercedes. That is when he purchased the charcoal 500 SEL, that remained his number one favorite since 1985 until his death, in 1999.
Emilio was the only man ever allowed to drive the director’s yellow Unimog. “The engine sounded like a machine gun and looked like the yellow submarine”, remembers the driver who was next to the director until the very first day of his life.