Felix Silla, the original Cousin Itt on The Addams Family, dies at 84
Felix Silla, the actor best known as hirsute Cousin Itt on the 1960s TV show The Addams Family, has died. He was 84.
Silla's friend and former Buck Rogers in the 25th Century costar Gil Gerard reported on Twitter that Silla died Friday after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Coming in at just under 4 feet tall and only 70 pounds, Silla was the perfect choice for the mumbling Cousin Itt on The Addams Family. For years, audiences didn't see his face, the character covered in a full-length hairpiece, sporting sunglasses and a bowler hat.
Cousin Itt was original to The Addams Family series, which ran from 1964 to 1966 on ABC. Based on Charles Addams' cartoons, the show followed a creepy and crawly family with a flair for the macabre.
But Silla's character was the invention of a producer, and he first appeared on the 20th episode in 1965 when a zookeeper mistakes Cousin Itt for an exotic animal. Silla did not provide the distinct mumbling voice of Cousin Itt. That was added by sound engineer Tony Magro in production.
Cousin Itt appeared in 19 episodes of the original TV show, with Silla playing the character 17 times.
Felix Silla was born Jan. 11, 1937, in Roccascasale, Italy. He first came to the United States in 1955 and began his career touring with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for seven years. He worked as a trapeze artist, tumbler, and bareback horse rider.
Eventually, he settled in Hollywood in 1962, where he became a stuntman. He went on to work in movies like A Ticklish Fair, TV shows like Bonanza, and appeared in the first pilot for Star Trek, "The Cage."
His small stature often helped him find work, including as Cousin Itt, robot sidekick Twiki on the NBC series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and even as a hang-gliding Ewok in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.
Silla's other notable roles included as a villain facing off against Sam Spade Jr. in The Black Bird, and on projects such as Point Blank, The Kentucky Fried Movie, The Brood, Spaceballs, H.R. Pufnstuf, and Lidsville.
He also excelled as a stand in, double, and stuntman working on projects such as Planet of the Apes, Demon Seed, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Towering Inferno, The Hindenburg, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Poltergeist, The Golden Child, Howard the Duck, and Batman Returns.
After moving to Las Vegas in 2003, Silla became a regular at fan conventions.
He is survived by his wife, Sue, and children, Bonnie and Michael.