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Felix Silla

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(written from a Production point of view)
Talosian 4, The Cage

...as a Talosian

Felix Anthony Silla (born 11 January 1937; age 77) is an actor and stuntman who appeared as a Talosian in the Star Trek: The Original Series pilot "The Cage". He did not receive credit for this role. Hailing from a small village outside Rome, Italy, the 3'11" tall Silla began his career in show business as a circus performer and toured with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus following his arrival in the United States in 1955. In the early 1960s, he broke into acting and stuntwork.

One of Silla's best-known roles in that of the short, hair-covered, gibberish-speaking Cousin Itt on the classic 1960s television series The Addams Family, which co-starred fellow TOS guest actor Ted Cassidy. Other Trek actors who appeared alongside Silla in guest roles are Lee Bergere, Meg Wyllie and Anthony Caruso. The character of Cousin Itt was later portrayed on the big screen by John Franklin. Another of Silla's famous roles is Litvak in the 1975 film The Black Bird, co-starring Elisha Cook, Jr. and Vic Tayback. He is also known for playing the robot Twiki in the science fiction series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, co-starring with Tim O'Connor and Eric Server. Other Trek alumni who worked on this show are Vic Perrin, Don Marshall, Seamon Glass, Frank Gorshin, James Sloyan, Jay Robinson, Ray Walston, Earl Boen, Michael Ansara, Alfred Ryder, Sid Haig, Julie Newmar, Barbara Luna, David Opatoshu, Lance LeGault, Mark Lenard, Paul Carr, Harry Townes, Anthony James, Billy Curtis, Walker Edmiston, writer D.C. Fontana and director Vincent McEveety. In both of these cases, Silla wore his character's costume, while another actor provided the character's voice (Tony Magro for Itt, Mel Blanc and Bob Elyea for Twiki). In addition to these roles, Silla was a regular performer on H.R. Pufnstuf, appeared as Lucifer on the original Battlestar Galactica (in which role he played alongside John Colicos, Ed Begley Jr., Reggie Nalder, George Murdock, Arlene Martel and Larry Cedar and was directed by Richard Colla), and played an Ewok in 1983's Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.

Besides Star Trek, Silla made guest appearances on such television programs as Petticoat Junction, The Monkees, Bewitched, The Dukes of Hazzard, and Married... with Children. He has also acted in a number of films, including Point Blank (1967, with Sharon Acker, Sid Haig, James B. Sikking, and Michael Strong), the original Planet of the Apes (1968, with James Daly, Lou Wagner, Paul Lambert, Billy Curtis, Jane Ross, music by Jerry Goldsmith and designs by Wah Chang), Black Samurai (1977, with Biff Yeager), Demon Seed (1977, co-starring Gerrit Graham, Davis Roberts, Fritz Weaver, and, in a bit part, Michael Dorn), The Manitou (1978, with Michael Ansara), The Brood (1979, starring Samantha Eggar), Meatballs Part II (1984, starring Hamilton Camp and John Larroquette), House (1986, with Michael Ensign and Steve Susskind), and as a Dink in Mel Brooks' popular 1987 sci-fi spoof Spaceballs (featuring Tim Russ and Leslie Bevis).

Silla's stunt work consists primarily of feature films, including Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973, with France Nuyen, Paul Williams, David Gerrold, music by Leonard Rosenman and cinematography by Richard H. Kline), The Towering Inferno (1974, with Elizabeth Rogers, Paul Comi and John Crawford), Robert Wise's The Hindenburg (1975, with Rene Auberjonois, Alan Oppenheimer and Vic Perrin), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Poltergeist (1982, with Allan Graf, music by Jerry Goldsmith and cinematography by Matthew F. Leonetti), and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984). He was more recently a stunt actor on 1992's Batman Returns (co-starring Diane Salinger, Vincent Schiavelli, Sean Whalen, and Biff Yeager), in which he played an emperor penguin, one of the Penguin's "henchbirds".

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