Felix Silla, Cousin Itt on 'The Addams Family,' Dies at 84
Felix Silla, a celebrated stunt man and character actor who embodied some of the small screen's smallest memorable characters, died April 16 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 84.
Silla's passing was first observed by his former co-star and longtime friend Gil Gerard in a salty remembrance on Twitter: "Felix died just a few hours ago and the only good I can draw from his passing is that he didn’t suffer any longer. I will miss him terribly, especially the great time we had at our panels. Just him telling me to 'go f myself.'"
Silla and Gerard had worked together in the feature film "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" (1979) and the ensuing series of the same name (1979-1981), with Gerard as the titular space hero and Silla entombed in a futuristic robot costume as Twiki, an "ambuquad."
It was one of many unforgettable — and physically challenging — roles Italian-born Silla, who stood 3'11", executed in his long career.
After touring with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, he found regular work on TV and in films, often stunt-doubling for children.
Along with Twiki, his most famous role was as Cousin Itt, the mass of hair who livened up 17 episodes of "The Addams Family" (1965-1966). The character was not an original Charles Addams creation, but was a popular addition to the series.
That role was one of his most dangerous — the costume was made of real human hair and a definite fire hazard in the days when smoking was allowed on every set. The original suit was eventually switched out for one of flame-retardant synthetic hair.
He was also in 1965's "The Cage," the first pilot for what would become "Star Trek."
Silla often cited his role as Litvak, a tiny, maniacal Nazi in the comedic "The Maltese Falcon" sequel "The Black Bird" (1975) as his favorite part, but perhaps his most widely consumed performance was as a hang-gliding Ewok in "Return of the Jedi" (1983).
Among other pop cultural touchstones touched by Silla's presence: "Planet of the Apes" (1968), "H.R. Pufnstuf" (1969-1970), "Bewitched" (1967-1971), "Lidsville" (1971-1972), "Sssssss" (1973), "Battlestar Galactica" (1978-1979), "Spaceballs" (1987), and "Batman Returns" (1992).
His last work was on the 2018 miniseries "Meet Slate."
Silla, a longtime Las Vegas resident, is survived by his wife of more than 55 years, Sue, and their two daughters. He was preceded in death by their son Michael last year.