2013 ended on a sad note for fans of James Avery's voice work, as the actor passed suddenly on Tuesday. Deadline has reported that Avery's death may be linked to complications from a recent open-heart surgery.
At just 65, Avery enjoyed a lengthy career on television, in movies, and even in video games. Acting regularly since 1983, Avery had three television movies in 2013, even reprising his "Fresh Prince" role as a judge in "Hunt for the Labyrinth Killer." He will also be seen posthumously at the Sundance Film Festival later this month in Zach Braff’s Kickstarter-funded "Wish I Was Here."
Many remember Avery best as Uncle Phil on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," but he voiced many classic animated characters as well, including Shredder on "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and "War Machine" on "Iron Man." His voicework dates back to early in his career, beginning with Fang in the manga film "Fist of the North Star" in 1986. Audiences may also remember his voice in "The Prince of Egypt," "Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling," the "Aladdin" television series, "The Real Ghostbusters," "Duckman," "The Legend of Tarzan," and others.
Thousands of users have taken to Twitter since the news broke, remembering the actor for his many roles. @silowet24 posted, "Does everyone forget that not only was James Avery uncle Phil, but also the voice of shredder in the original ninja turtles cartoon? #legend" and @Fionndigo remembers him better in another role, noting, "I'm almost in tears over the loss of an amazing actor RIP the voice of the war machine James Avery." Even his lesser known roles are evoking emotions, as @maskedreviewer chose to tweet, "RIP James Avery. Voice of Junk Yard Dog in the Hulk Hogan's Rock n Wrestling."