James Avery was recovering from open heart surgery when he left us New Years Eve. He took a turn for the worse and then he was gone. He left us with so much though.
Avery would grow up in Atlantic City, N.J. living with his single mom. Times couldn't have been the greatest but he would join the Navy and serve in Vietnam. After the war he would move to California and enter the University of California at San Diego. He would study Drama and Literature. He would move on to acting and had a uncredited part in 'The Blues Brothers' as a dancer.
James would later have a recurring role in 'LA Law' as a judge, which is kind of ironic because when he would land the role as Phillip Banks on 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air' he would also be a judge.
He would appear in some films as 'Fletch', '8 Million Ways To Die', and 'The Prince of Egypt'. It was the character of Uncle Phil that he will be most remembered for. He played such a good father figure that he can be ranked as one of the best dads on television. This would place him in the company of Robert Young, Danny Thomas, and Bill Cosby just to name a few.
Later this month his film 'Wish I Was Here' is to debut at the Sundance Film Festival. I wonder if this is his little joke on us. It's a shame he will only be there in spirit. James Avery was once asked whether he was a star or an actor. He replied he was an actor and he was happy to be one. He was not a pretentious person and rather down to Earth.
I've been putting this off and I know others have written about him in the past couple of days. I was watching a rerun of 'Fresh Prince' and it really hit me. Say it ain't so, Uncle Phil you will be sorely missed. Rest In Peace.