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Addams Family star Felix Silla who played Cousin Itt on the original 1960s TV show dead at 84

Addams Family star Felix Silla who played Cousin Itt on the original 1960s TV show dead at 84 after pancreatic cancer battle

Felix Silla, who played Cousin Itt on the original 1960s TV version of The Addams Family, died this Friday in Las Vegas.

The 3’11” actor and stuntman was 84 years old and had been suffering from pancreatic cancer, according to TMZ

His old pal Gil Gerard, who co-starred with him on the TV show Buck Rogers In The 25th Century, confirmed the news of Felix’ death. 

Dearly departed: Felix Silla, who played Cousin Itt on the original 1960s TV version of The Addams Family, died this Friday in Las Vegas; pictured in 2013

Icon status: The 3'11" actor and stuntman was 84 years old and had been suffering from pancreatic cancer, according to TMZ; he is pictured as Cousin Itt

Icon status: The 3’11” actor and stuntman was 84 years old and had been suffering from pancreatic cancer, according to TMZ; he is pictured as Cousin Itt

Although Felix wore the prosthetic for Cousin Itt throughout the show’s run from 1964 to 1966, the voice was given uncredited by Tony Magro.

Felix also portrayed an Ewok in the 1983 Star Wars film Return Of The Jedi and a robot on Buck Rogers In The 25th Century from 1979 to 1981.

Born in a Southern Italian village in 1937, he emigrated to America as a teenager in the 1950s and established himself as a circus act.

He was multitalented – trapeze artist, tumbler, bareback rider – and wound up with the Ringling Bros And Barnum & Bailey Circus.

While in Los Angeles on tour with the Ringling Bros he pivoted into Hollywood and eventually got scouted by MGM to be a stunt double for a child.

His first gig in that job was the 1963 romantic comedy A Ticklish Affair, he told Weird Review, and he soon forged a career as a stuntman. 

His interview process for Cousin Itt back in the mid-1960s did not even involve any acting, he told the Los Angeles Times in 2014.

These two guys sat at a table. They take one look at me and say: “You got the job.” And I say: “That’s it? Don’t I even need to audition?” They say: “No, just show up on Monday,”‘ recalled Felix in the interview.

Although the show was based on newspaper cartoons by Charles Addams the Cousin Itt character was an invention of the TV series. 

‘A producer dreamed it up in some nightmare,’ Felix joked, comparing his ‘hot and heavy’ costume to ‘wearing a brick.’

He did not speak as Cousin Itt and his appearance was completely obscured behind the costume which was essentially a giant mountain of hair. 

‘All the guys on the set smoked. 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,’ Felix dished.

After The Addams Family he played the villain in The Black Bird, a 1975 comedy sequel to The Maltese Falcon starring George Segal.

His character Litvak, which he called his ‘favorite role,’ struts around in a Nazi uniform and is protected by a phalanx of massive Hawaiian bodyguards.

‘So it was a comedy, it was a lot of dialogue, but it really didn’t do much for me because they released as a – together with an X-rated film,’ he explained years later. 

As his career went on he continued to double for children including in Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom directed by Steven Spielberg. 

Felix recalled Steven held ‘his right thumb and index finger an inch apart and says: “You know, Felix, if you were this much smaller I’d cast you as E.T. in the remake.”‘

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