By Aglaia Staff

James Avery, the actor known for playing Uncle Phil in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, died on New Year’s Eve aged 68. His publicist said his death was due to “complications from open heart surgery”.

Avery played Philip ‘Uncle Phil’ Banks, considered one of the best TV father-figure characters, between 1990 and 1996. The guardian to Will Smith‘s rambunctious self-titled character, Uncle Phil was at the centre of many jokes with his firm-but-fair parenting approach. Uncle Phil famously threw Smith out of his Bel-Air mansion in several episodes.

Not dissimilar to Smith’s character, Avery was raised by a single mother in Atlantic City, New Jersey, before being classically trained in acting. After serving in the Vietnam War as a member of the US Navy, Avery embarked upon an acting career. His first big screen role was an uncredited part in The Blues Brothers. Avery’s baritone voice led him to do voiceover work, and he lent his tones to The Shredder for the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series.

After The Fresh Prince, Avery made guest appearances on sitcoms including That ’70s Show and That’s So Raven. Avery was still working until September, shooting Wish I Was Here, a film directed by Zach Braff which will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival this month.


 James Avery, Fresh Prince of Bel Air Actor Dies
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