Felix Silla, the Italian actor best known for his portrayal of the hirsute Cousin Itt on The Addams Family, passed away at age 84 on April 16, Comic Book reports. The performer spent his final years battling pancreatic cancer, as reported by Entertainment Weekly. Gil Gerard (Sidekicks), Silla’s former co-star on the sci-fi adventure series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, made the news of his friend’s passing public via a post on his Twitter, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
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. I will miss him terribly, especially the great time we had at our panels. Just him telling me to ,” go ‘ f ‘ myself”. 😢
— Gil Gerard (@Gil_Gerard) April 16, 2021
Silla’s career as a performer began with a stint in the Ringling Bros. Circus, as reported by Comic Book. His first job in Hollywood was on the the 1963 romantic comedy A Ticklish Affair, where he a stunt double for child actor Peter Robbins (A Boy Named Charlie Brown). One of the supporting characters in the film was played by Academy Award nominee Carolyn Jones (The Bachelor Party), who would go on to become Silla’s scene partner on The Addams Family, where she memorably played the family’s matriarch Morticia.
Cousin Itt, Silla’s most famous role, did not originate in the single-panel cartoons of Charles Addams (Creature Comforts), but in the writer’s room. “A producer dreamed it up in some nightmare,” Silla recalled, via The L.A. Times. Perhaps even more surprising is that Silla nabbed the role the same day he auditioned. He recounted the experience in an interview on the radio show The Five Count: “I went into the office and there were two nice-looking gentlemen talking to each other. I got in… and they looked at each other and they saw me and said, ‘Well, that’s Itt,’ and I said, ‘Well, what do you mean?’ They said, ‘Come back Monday… and you will start working.’ And they didn’t tell me anything. They didn’t say what I was supposed to be doing. They just said, ‘Come back on Monday. You got the job.’ I said, ‘Okay. Thank you. I’ll see you Monday.'” The character’s voice was allegedly not provided by Silla but by sound engineer Anthony Magro (Murder, She Wrote), Entertainment Weekly reports.
Silla reprised his iconic role one final time in 1977 for a made-for-TV special titled Halloween with the New Addams Family. He also appeared in a number of feature films throughout the 1970’s, including The Black Bird, a lighthearted sequel to the noir classic The Maltese Falcon. The movie starred George Segal (The Goldbergs) as the son of hard-boiled detective Sam Spade. Segal passed away in March of 2021.
Silla was 84 years old at the time of his passing. He is survived by his wife Sue and daughters Bonnie and Diana. His son Michael passed away in March 2020 at age 45.