Felix Silla, the actor who wore a full body-length hairpiece to play the mysterious Cousin Itt on the original The Addams Family series, has died. He was 84. Silla was best known for roles where his face wasn't seen, including an Ewok in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi and the robot Twiki on Buck Rogers.
Silla died after a battle with pancreatic cancer, his Buck Rogers in the 25th Century co-star and friend Gil Gerard announced on Twitter. "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.'" Buck Rogers aired on NBC from 1979 to 1981 and starred Gerard in the title role.
Silla stood just under four feet tall and made his first appearance on The Addams Family in a 1965 episode in which a zookeeper thinks Cousin Itt is an exotic animal. He played the character in 17 episodes of the original show, reports The Hollywood Reporter. Only 64 episodes of the show were produced, but it became a beloved show through reruns for decades. Cousin Itt was created by a producer on the show, not by The Addams Family cartoonist Charles Addams.
In 2014, Silla told The Los Angeles Times that the Cousin Itt costume was made from real human hair at first. He described the costume as "hot and heavy... like wearing a brick," and said producers were worried he would get hurt. “All the guys on the set smoked,” Silala recalled. “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.”
Silla was born in Italy and moved to the U.S. in 1955. He first toured as a member of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus before he started working as a Hollywood stuntman in 1962. His small size made him perfect for work as a stunt double for child actors or roles that required full-body costumes. His credits include E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Batman Returns, The Black Bird, Black Samurai, and Spaceballs. He also had a small part in the original Star Trek pilot episode "The Cage."
In 2003, Silla moved to Las Vegas. He was a favorite at conventions, where he signed autographs for fans. He is survived by his wife, Sue, and their children, Bonnie and Michael.