Saturday, April 17, 2021

Godspeed Felix Silla

Felix Silla, who played Cousin Itt on the classic sitcom The Addams Family  and the maniacal villain in the film The Black Bird (1975), died on April 16 2021 at the age of 84. The cause was pancreatic cancer.

Felix Silla was born in  Roccacasale, Italy on January 11 1937. He moved to the United States in 1955. He performed with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for seven years as a trapeze artist, tumbler, and bareback horseman. In 1962 he moved to Hollywood where he began his career as a stuntman and actor.

Mr. Silla made his television debut in an episode of Grindl in 1963. He made his debut as Cousin Itt on The Addams Family in the episode "Cousin Itt Visits the Addams Family" and appeared several more times on the show. The voice of Cousin Itt was provided by Tony Magro. At the same time that he was appearing on The Addams Family, Felix Silla was also the stunt double for actor Butch Patrick on the other "monster" comedy of the Sixties, The Munsters. He appeared as one of the Talosians in the original Star Trek pilot "The Cage." In the Sixties he guest starred on the TV shows Bonanza, Petticoat Junction, The Girl From U.N.C.L.E., The Monkees, and Bewitched. He also played Polka Dotted Horse on the Saturday morning TV series H. R. Pufnstuf. He appeared in the movies She Freak (1967), Point Blank (1967), Planet of the Apes (1968), The April Fools (1969), Justine (1969), and Pufnstuf (1970). He performed stunts for the movies A Ticklish Affair (1963) and The Russians Are Coming the Russians Are Coming (1966).

In the Seventies Felix Silla played Lucifer on Battlestar Galactica (the voice was provided by Jonathan Harris) and Twiki on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (the voice was provided by Mel Blanc). He played Colonel Poom on the Saturday morning show Lidsville and had the recurring role of Chuck on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. He reprised his role as Itt on the 1977 television reunion movie Halloween with the New Addams Family. He guest starred on the shows Bewitched and Night Gallery. He appeared in the mini-series Lincoln. He appeared in the movies Little Cigars (1973), Sssssss (1973), The Black Bird (1975), Mastermind (1976), Black Samurai (1976), Demon Seed (1977), The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977), The Manitou (1978), Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979), and The Brood (1979). He performed stunts for the movies Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973), Earthquake (1974), The Towering Inferno (1974), The Hindenburg (1975), Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979), and When Time Ran Out (1980).

In the Eighties Felix Silla continued to appear on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century during the first year of the decade. He guest starred on the TV shows Mork & Mindy, The Dukes of Hazzard, and Married...with Children. He appeared in the movies Under the Rainbow (1981), The Sting II (1983), Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983), Meatballs Part II, Ragewar (1984), House (1985), and Spaceballs (1987). He performed stunts for E.T. the Extra-Terrestial  (1982), Poltergeist (1982), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Howard the Duck (1984), Weekend Warriors (1986), The Golden Child (1986), The Monster Squad (1987), and Phantasm II (1988).

In the Nineties he appeared in the movies Batman Returns (1992) and Galgameth (1996). He performed stunts for Batman Returns (1992). In the Teens he appeared in the movies CHARACTERz (2016) and the 2018 mini-series Meet Slate.

Felix Silla also played in a band, The Harmonica Band, that even performed in Las Vegas.

Felix Silla was extremely versatile. Because of his small size (he was only 3'11"), he was often called upon to be the stunt double for children. He played a variety of roles through the years, from a "leprechaun" on Bonanza to a goblin on Bewitched to one of the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi. As Cousin Itt and Twiki he got to play recurring roles. And he played only the body in many of his roles, he was entirely wonderful when he actually got to speak in a part. A perfect example of this is his role as Litvak in The Black Bird. Felix Silla was perfect as the half-crazed villain. For younger Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, Felix Silla generated many fond memories.

No comments: