Felix Silla, better known as Gibberish Cousin Itt in the 1960s TV series The Addams Family, died today of pancreatic cancer. He was 84 and died in Las Vegas, according to a Tweeter by Gil Gerard, who starred with him in the NBC series 1979-81 Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.
Silla donned a full hairpiece, sunglasses and a bowler hat to play the role of Cousin Itt, who could only be understood by members of the Addams family, thanks to his eerie mumble. The role was one of many where Silla’s face remained invisible, including appearances as the robot Twiki on Buck rogers and like an Ewok hang-glider in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi.
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One role he could be seen in was villainous Litvak, who took on George Segal’s Sam Spade Jr. in The Maltese Falcon after The black bird (1975).
Born in Italy, Silla was just under 4 feet tall and weighed just 70 pounds. He came to the United States in 1955 and toured with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus as a trapeze artist and tumbler. He came to Hollywood in 1962 and worked as a stuntman.
His skills and petite stature have led to a number of roles, including the Gig Young-Shirley Jones comedy film. A ticklish affair, the Windfall episode Hoss and the elves, and in the Star Trek pilot The cage in 1965.
He later appeared in Planet of the Apes (1968), Demon seed (1977) and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Death (1984). He has done stunts in a number of large images, including AND the alien, Fighting spirit, The Golden Child and Batman Returns (1992), among many other films.
On television he was a regular artist for Sid and Marty Krofft on HR Pufnstuf and Lidsville.
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 part of the Charles Addams cartoons that inspired the TV series. Cousin Itt’s voice wasn’t Silla either – 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 never-ending syndication run.
Survivors include his wife, Sue, whom he married in 1965, and their children, Bonnie and Michael. No commemorative plan has been announced.
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