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Phil Avery update: 'Fresh Prince' actor James Avery's cause of death announced

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"Phil Avery" headlines are cropping up everywhere on the Internet after news surfaced that James Avery died. Famously known as Uncle Phil by Will Smith on the sitcom, "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," the beloved actor passed away on New Year's Eve at a California hospital. James Avery's cause of death is related to complications from surgery due to heart disease, this according to a Jan. 1 InsideTV celebrity news report.

Watch video above of last footage TMZ released of the actor signing autographs and taking questions.

The news took many by surprise of Uncle Phil. Avery, according to his publicist, was undergoing open-heart surgery when complications set in. Sources say his wife, Barbara Avery, left for a short while to get a bite to eat and returned, only to learn her husband passed away in her absence.

Sources say the veteran actor, who announced his battle with diabetes a number of years ago, had been unwell recently. Details are still emerging about what went wrong during the operation that led to James Avery's death.

"Fresh Prince" debuted in 1990 and ran six seasons over 148 episodes. The situational comedy starred Will Smith, a street-smart teen who moved in with his rich aunt and uncle (Avery), who were challenged with raising the rebellious teenager and keeping him out of trouble.

Similar to "The Cosby Show," Smith's television show became a cult classic.

Although the "Bel-Air" show ended in 1996, Uncle Phil, ehem, James Avery continued working in Hollywood. He appeared in numerous film and television roles. Moreover, he is credited with many voice roles.

According to his publicist, from a 2013 statement, Avery's last role was "Wish I Was Here," a comedy drama film directed by Zach Braff and co-written with Adam J. Braff.

The project, which stars Ashley Greene, Kate Hudson, Josh Gad, Joey King, Jim Parsons, and others, is set for a September release. Prior to that, it will be screened at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

More to come on the "Phil-Avery" story.

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