James Avery, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air Star, Dead At 65
Actor James Avery, best known for his role as the lovable but stern Philip Banks on the hit 1990s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, died on New Year’s Eve. He was 65.
The sad news was confirmed by his publicist. Avery was in the hospital to undergo open heart surgery and died from complications. His wife Barbara was at his bedside for hours but left briefly to get her husband some food. When she returned, he had passed away.
Born on November 27, 1948 in Virginia, Avery was raised in Atlantic City, N.J. He served in the U.S. Navy in 1968 and 1969 during the Vietnam War. Later, he moved to San Diego, Calif. where he became a classically trained actor and poet. He landed notable roles as the voice of Shredder in the 1987 animated show Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series and as James Rhodes in the 1990s Iron Man series.
Avery would become a household name as the Uncle Phil to Will Smith‘s character on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air from 1990 through 1996. Avery’s television son Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Carlton Banks on Fresh Prince, tweeted his sorrow upon learning of his death.
“I’m deeply saddened to say that James Avery has passed away,” Ribeiro tweeted. “He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly.
Miguel A. Nunez Jr., who worked with Avery on the series Sparks from 1996 through 1998, also shared his despair on Twitter. “Rest in Peace James Avery. Love You,” he tweeted. “One of the best actors of our time.”
Watch some of Avery’s most fatherly moments on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air below. He will be missed.