Anyone who loved the hit 1990’s sitcom, ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ also loved character Phillip Banks. James Avery, who starred as the man of the house passed away Tuesday, Dec. 31, according to his publicist and various news outlets. He was 68.
Grieving co-star Alfonso Ribeiro (Carlton) tweeted of his on-screen father’s passing:
"I'm deeply saddened to say that James Avery has passed away," Riberio wrote. "He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly."
Jada Pinkett Smith, wife of "Fresh Price" star Will Smith (who co-starred as Uncle Phil's handful of a nephew), 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.
Avery had been in ill health the past of couple years, and complications from open-heart surgery is what his manager Toni Benson has shared as the cause of death. He had surgery on Nov. 11 and died Tuesday evening at a hospital in Glendale, California, Benson shared.
Aside from being a likable actor, Avery was also a poet. He grew up in Atlantic New Jersey, where he was raised by a single mother. In addition to his dedication to the arts, Avery was a Veteran who served in the Navy during the Vietnam War.
After serving in the military, Avery began writing TV scripts and poetry from PBS.
He always knew he wanted to write, but had enjoyed theatre as well. Throughout his life, he appeared in various TV shows such as “CSI,” “That ‘70’s Show,” “The Closer,” and had several appearances as a judge on “L.A. Law.”
However, to ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ fans, the deep-voiced Avery will always be “Uncle Phil,” – the sometimes stern, but always loving man that simply always wanted the best for his family.
Avery is survived by his wife of 26 years - Barbara Avery, his mother Florence Avery, and stepson, Kevin Waters.