Felix Silla, probably best known as the adorable – if overly hirsute – Cousin Itt on the 1960s TV series The Addams Family, died over the weekend from pancreatic cancer. He was 84 and died in Las Vegas, according to a tweet from his Buck Rogers in 25th Century costar Gil Gerard.
Silla was just under 4 feet tall and weighed 70 pounds. He was born in Italy and came to the US in 1955 where he toured with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus as a trapeze artist and tumbler.
In 1962, he moved to Hollywood.
He began acting in A Ticklish Affair (with Shirley Jones and Gig Young), a Bonanza episode Hoss and the Leprechauns, and in the Star Trek pilot The Cage in 1965.
He went on to appear in Planet of the Apes (1968), Demon Seed (1977) and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984). He did stunt work in a number of big pictures, including E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Poltergeist, The Golden Child and Batman Returns (1992), among many other films.
On TV, he was a regular performer for Sid and Marty Krofft on H.R. Pufnstuf and Lidsville.
But it’s as Cousin Itt in The Addam’s Family that he is most fondly remembered.
Silla debuted on The Addams Family in 1965 in an episode where a zookeeper wanted to put him in a cage. The character was created by a producer and was not in the Charles Addams cartoons that were the inspiration for the TV series. Cousin Itt’s voice was also not Silla – instead, it was provided by sound engineer Tony Magro in post-production.)
He went on to appear as Cousin Itt 17 times on the show, which became a fan favorite largely in its endless syndication run.
Survivors include his wife, Sue, whom he married in 1965, and their children, Bonnie and Michael. No memorial plans have been announced.
(GIPHs via GIPHY)