Felix Silla, the Italian-born little person whose stunt and acting career led to a surprising number of key character roles, died Friday, April 16, after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
He was 84.
Silla's death was made public by his Buck Rodgers in the 25th Century (1979-1981) co-star Gil Gerard, who tweeted:
Though beloved by sci-fi fans for his work in the sleek costume of "ambuquad" robot Twiki on that show and in the two-hour pilot that was a 1979 feature film, Silla is unquestionably best known for his 17 episodes as Cousin Itt on The Addams Family (1965-1966).
Charles Addams had not conceived of Cousin Itt, but ... let's go with "he" ... was a welcome addition to the zany proceedings, unmissable thanks to his omnipresent pelt of hair everywhere.
The costume was extremely heavy and was initially made of real human hair, until concern was expressed for his ability to escape it in time if an errant cigarette butt happened to light him up. A flame-retardant synethic-hair alternative was concocted.
Oddly, Silla never uttered a peep on either of his most famous series — Twiki was voiced by Mel Blanc (1908-1989) on Season 1 and Bob Elyea (no birth/death available) on Season 2 of Buck Rogers, while Cousin Itt's "voice" was provided by Anthony Magro (b. 1923).
Born January 11, 1937, in Italy, Silla spent seven years as part of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus ahead of working on his first film, 1963's A Ticklish Affair, doing stunt work as a child.
His stunts were a part of a large number of household-name films, including The Russians Are Coming the Russians Are Coming (1966), Earthquake (1974), The Towering Inferno (1974), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) and Batman Returns (1992).
In front of the camera, his stature was always front-and-center, including roles on H.R. Pufnstuf (1969-1970) as the Polka Dotted Horse, Bewitched (1967 & 1971), Lidsville (1971-1972) as Col. Poom and in the creepy horror classic Sssssss (1973) as Sam Lee, the Seal Boy.
Silla's personal favorite part was as Litvak, a mini maniac and Nazi in The Black Bird (1975), a comedy sequel to The Maltese Falcon (1941).
Largely retired after the mid-'90s, he did pop up in the cult comedy CHARACTERz (2016) and in the Meet Slate miniseries from 2018.
He is survived by his wife of 55 years and their two daughters. He was predeceased by their son.