Felix Silla, a beloved figure in pop culture, has died at the age of 84.
Silla, a 3-foot-11 actor whose body of work included playing Cousin Itt in “The Addams Family,” the robot Twiki in “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century” and an Ewok in “Return of the Jedi,” had been battling pancreatic cancer.
Silla and Buck Rogers actor Gil Gerard were among guests at the 2018 Tulsa Pop Culture Expo. They participated in a joint question-and-answer session and generated laughter by swapping verbal jabs.
Gerard tweeted this Friday: “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 (bleep) myself.”
Gerard had previously tweeted that Silla was a dear friend for more than 40 years.
Gerard’s affection for Silla was evident when, after they had been needling each other at the Tulsa Pop Culture Expo, he and Silla were challenged to say something nice about each other.
“His real talent has been so underappreciated because, when you think about Cousin Itt and Twiki, he has created characters that people have affection for, and love, and he has never been seen,” Gerard said. “It’s not like people fell in love with the way he looked. All he had was this ability to create a character that came out from behind all the stuff that covered him.”
As Cousin Itt, Silla was covered head-to-toe by a costume made of human hair. Silla feared he might go up in flames if the suit came into contact with cigarette butts on the set, so a synthetic hair costume was created.
Silla did the physical acting for Twiki in “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century,” but the character was voiced by Mel Blanc.
Silla was a performer with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey circus before transitioning to stunt work and acting.