Famed actor James Avery, who played Will Smith’s Uncle Phil on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” died at 68 years-old.
James Avery died of complications from open-heart surgery, said his manager, Toni Benson. Avery had surgery on November 11 and died Tuesday evening at a hospital in Glendale, California, according to Benson.
Avery grew up in Atlantic City, New Jersey where he was raised by a single mother and served in the Navy in Vietnam in the late 1960s. After returning to the states, he settled in California and studied drama and literature at the University of California at San Diego. His first appearance onscreen was as a dancer in an unaccredited role in the 1980 film “The Blues Brothers.”
Some of James Avery’s movie credits include “Fletch,” “The Prince of Egypt” and “8 Million Ways to Die.” He also appeared in “Grey’s Anatomy,” “That ’70s Show” “Charmed” and “That’s So Raven.”
Avery’s most well known role was along the side of Will Smith in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” which aired from 1990 to 1996.
Avery played Philip Banks, the uncle of Smith’s character. Banks was a successful lawyer with whom his nephew was sent to live because of crime in his native Philadelphia neighborhood.
“Fresh Prince” co-star Alfonso Ribeiro, who played his son Carlton on the sitcom, wrote on Twitter after learning about Avery’s death: “I’m deeply saddened to say that James Avery has passed away. He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly.”
James Avery is survived by his wife, Barbara, and stepson Kevin Waters.
‘Fresh Prince’ actor, James Avery, dead at 68
Actor James Avery, best known as ‘Uncle Phil’ from ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’, has passed away at age 68.
James Avery Dead — Uncle Phil of ‘Fresh Prince’ Dies
James Avery, the beloved dad from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” has died. Avery had recently undergone open heart surgery and died from complications from the operation.