Published On: Wed, Jan 1st, 2014

‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ star James Avery passes away at age 68

The fan favorite and patriarch of NBC’s The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, James Avery, passed away at age 68.

“Uncle Phil,” Philip Banks, was the foil for the humorous Will Smith on the hit show for six season.

James Avery Will Smith Fresh Prince Bel Air photo“I’m deeply saddened to say that James Avery has passed away,” tweeted Fresh Prince co-star Alfonso Ribeiro wrote. “He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly.”

Jada Pinkett Smith, wife of “Fresh Price” star Will Smith, posted the couple’s condolences Wednesday on her verified Facebook page.

“Our condolences to aunt Florence (his mother), Miss Barbara (his wife) and all those who loved him,” Pinkett Smith wrote.

His publicist reported that Avery died on December 31 after complications from open heart surgery.

Born in Atlantic City, Avery served in the Navy during Vietnam, beginning a career in acting with an uncredited role in The Blue Brothers (1980).

Avery’s resume is long: from The Jeffersons to LA Law to Grey’s Anatomy on TV while voicing several animated characters playing Shredder on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series in the mid-’80s and ’90s.

n a 2007 interview with the New York Film Academy, he was forthright about his abilities.

“You can either be a movie star or an actor. I’m an actor,” Avery said. “(But) I’ve done pretty good.”


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