Fresh Prince star James Avery dead at 65
Actor James Avery, who played the beloved Uncle Phil on the hit 1990s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air has died from complications after heart surgery.PT0M55S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-306yc 620 349 January 2, 2014
James Avery, best known as Will Smith’s Uncle Phil in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, has died aged 65.
Avery passed away on Tuesday in California, due to complications from open-heart surgery, his publicist Cynthia Snyder told The Associated Press.
His acting career began with an uncredited role in the classic film The Blues Brothers, before guest apperances in shows such as The Jeffersons, Newhart and The A-Team.
Actor James Avery has died. Photo: Getty Images
He then played Judge Michael Conover on LA Law and voiced the arch-enemy of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Shredder, before moving on to the role he’s best known for.
Avery was the stern voice of reason in his nephew Will’s life, before growing into somewhat of a father figure in the six seasons of Fresh Prince, from 1990 to 1996.
The cast briefly reunited in 2011 at a charity event, and had remained close. Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Phil’s son Carlton on the show, took to Facebook to express his grief. ‘‘The world has lost a truly special man. I am very saddened to say that James Avery has passed,’’ Ribeiro wrote. ‘‘Even though he played my father on TV, he was a wonderful father figure to me in life. He will be deeply missed.’’
Avery was a good friend of Jada Pinkett Smith and husband Will Smith, and Pinkett Smith paid tribute on Facebook while wishing her fans a Happy New Year. "I was hoping to start the new year differently but we have lost yet another friend. James Avery who we all lovingly know as Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince has passed,’’ she wrote. ‘‘Our condolences to aunt Florence (his mother), Miss Barbara (his wife) and all those who loved him. Rest in peace James. J.’’
Other celebrities have remembered Avery on Twitter.
RIP to Uncle Phil Aka James Avery !!!! Loved the fresh prince of Be-air pic.twitter.com/1DNPp8aqh5— Ghostface Killah (@GhostfaceKillah) January 1, 2014
Rest In Peace James Avery "Philip Banks" "Uncle Phil" from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. He took a turn for the worse… http://t.co/uLayzII25H— Jahméne Douglas (@JahmeneDouglas) January 1, 2014
James was my teacher my protector & the most magnificent actor. We're feeling his loss very deeply. He'll always be apart of me #JamesAvery— Tatyana Ali (@TatyanaAli) January 1, 2014
Following Fresh Prince, Avery had guest spots on popular comedies such as That 70s Show and My Wife and Kids, and featured on 11 episodes of drama series The Closer. More recently, he appeared on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
At the time of his death, Avery was working with Scrubs star Zach Braff on his new film Wish I Was Here, which will premiere at 2014’s Sundance Film Festival.
There was a brief reunion of Fresh Prince cast members in 2011, with Avery photographed with Smith and Ribeiro, as well as Karyn Parsons and Tatyana Ali, who played his two daughters on the program.
with AP and CM