How well do you know the other actor who played Cousin Itt?

Roger Arroyo filled in twice on The Addams Family. To kids everywhere, he was better known for performing live as Donald Duck.

It would be nearly impossible to tell under all that hair, but in The Addams Family episode "The Great Treasure Hunt," instead of Felix Silla in the Cousin Itt costume, it’s Roger Arroyo.

Over the series run, Silla appeared as Itt in 17 episodes and Arroyo in only two.

For both actors, their careers started in 1963, with both featured in the exact same Bonanza episode, "Hoss and the Leprechauns."

Of the two, Silla became well-known to audiences through the span of his career, playing many iconic roles beyond Cousin Itt, including Twiki on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century in the Seventies and Dink in the Star Wars spoof Spaceballs.

Arroyo’s lesser known as an onscreen actor in part because in his career, he was historically more of a live performer.

In the Seventies, after his stint filling in on The Addams Family, he joined the cast of Disney On Parade, a live touring show where he performed live as Donald Duck in every single show.

Disney On Parade featured more than 100 Disney characters in what was billed as "the world’s most spectacular extravaganza." There were four editions that toured from 1969 to 1974, and every show started with a live band playing "When You Wish Upon a Star."

Joining this cast of some of the best-known cartoon characters in the world, Arroyo had the distinction of being the only cast member who did not have an understudy.

He performed nine times a week in every show, which sold out so frequently, parents were always sure to book their tickets well in advance.

As Donald Duck, Arroyo frequently won awards in his company for his consistently good performances.

A castmate who sometimes played Mickey Mouse, Francis Patrelle told The Courier-Journal in 1971 how unique the atmosphere was at these magical live events, which introduced many kids for the first time to their favorite cartoon characters.

"It’s very, very exciting performing in front of kids," Patrelle said. "When I see their faces light up screaming, wanting to touch Mickey Mouse’s hand, it’s very, very exciting. Kids are a very good audience."

Arroyo always loved performing for kids. It’s what got him into show business as a teen growing up in Mexico City.

When a touring circus came through in 1957, Arroyo got caught up in the magic at age 14 and decided to join. For the next six years, he became the kind of animated clown who wasn’t just popular with kids in Mexico, but also their parents.

According to a reporter for The Sault Daily Star in 1963, the adults could be overheard at the circus, chuckling any time Arroyo came around and insisting, "He’s the funniest clown."

After leaving the circus, Arroyo found work in commercials and TV, leading up to getting cast as Donald Duck in the live Disney tour. In his onscreen career, after the tour ended, he appeared in a few more movies in the Eighties and Nineties before retiring his film career with a final role in the mid-2000s.

While appearing as Cousin Itt, popping out of a tomb and chattering in "The Great Treasure Hunt," Arroyo got a chance to embody a famous classic TV character.

But to him, the pay was more dependable doing live performances, and it’s likely he also just enjoyed the crazy charged atmosphere like the one Patrelle described at Disney On Parade.

Arroyo said it cheered him to make kids laugh onstage, especially when he was mumbling like Donald Duck.

"The more laughs you hear, the more happy you are," Arroyo said.

 
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RichLorn 5 months ago
I always suspected Cousin Itt needed a stand-in on bad hair days.
Jeffrey 5 months ago
I didn't know there were 2 actors who played Itt, I thought just Felix Silla.
Gayleistoons 6 months ago
Wow an article without a picture of actors who always appeared in costume....not well done at all. 😑
Runeshaper 6 months ago
"The more laughs you hear, the more happy you are" = pure gold right there. Always nice to make children laugh too. That's AWESOME!
MrsPhilHarris 6 months ago
Omg I saw a Disney On Parade when I was a little kid. Loved it so much.
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