Stuntman and actor Felix Silla, best known for his role as Cousin Itt on The Addams Family, has sadly passed away. A longtime resident of Las Vegas, Nevada, Silla reportedly died on Friday following a battle with pancreatic cancer. The news was revealed by Gil Gerard, Silla’s co-star on the NBC series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, with a poster on Twitter. Silla was 84 years old.
“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,” Gerard wrote. “I will miss him terribly, especially the great time we had at our panels. Just him telling me to, ‘go ‘f’ myself.'”
Janet Gerard, another friend of Silla’s, wrote in a tweet: “My heart is broken today. Felix Silla, known to so many as Twiki, Cousin It, and book full of iconic beloved roles, has passed away. He was a very dear friend, he made me laugh so much and I feel like there is just a hole in my heart.”
As an actor, Silla’s most well-known role is one that kept his face completely obscured. Portraying Cousin Itt on The Addams Family, Silla had to wear a body-length hairpiece with a pair of sunglasses representing his eyes. The character also spoke indistinctly on the show, though the other members of the Addams family never had any trouble knowing what he was saying. The fan favorite character was later played by John Franklin in the 1991 movie and voiced by Snoop Dogg in the animated 2019 reboot.
“All the guys on the set smoked,” Silla said of his Cousin Itt costume in an interview with the LA Times in 2014. “They just dropped their butts and stepped on them. The producers worried that I might step on a smoldering cigarette and go up in flames. They gave me synthetic hair, which was flame-retardant.”
The actor is also known for playing the robot sidekick Twiki on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and for playing a hang-gliding Ewok in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi. Without a full-body disguise, Silla could also be seen playing the villain Litvak opposite George Segal as Sam Spade Jr. in The Black Bird, the 1975 sequel to the classic movie The Maltese Falcon.
Silla was born in Roccacasale, Italy, on Jan. 11, 1937. After relocating to the United States in 1955, he toured for several years with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus as a trapeze artist and tumbler. By the early 1960s, he had begun working as a stuntman in Hollywood, leading to his roles in various movies and TV shows. His feature credits include Planet of the Apse, Spaceballs, and The Kentucky Fried Movie, while he’s also appeared in shows including H.R. Pufnstuf and Lidsville.
A fan favorite at conventions, Silla’s death has left fans everywhere in mourning in the wake of the news. The actor’s survivors include his wife, Sue, with whom he’d been married since 1965, along with their children, Bonnie and Michael. Our thoughts are with them at this painful time. May Silla rest in peace. This news comes to us from The Hollywood Reporter.