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'The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air' actor, James Avery, dead at 68

 James Avery at the 'I, Robot' Film Premiere
© Joe Martinez / Picturelux - All Rights Reserved

James Avery, best known for his portrayal of the patriarch in the TV sitcom 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,' died at the age of 68 from complications following open heart surgery in a Los Angeles suburb hospital in Glendale, CA.

His publicist, Toni Benson, confirmed the news of his death to CNN, as well as his former co-star Alfonso Ribeiro, who tweeted, "I'm deeply saddened to say that James Avery has passed away. He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly."

Avery was born in 1945 in Pughsville, Suffolk County, Virginia and raised in Atlantic City, New Jersey. After graduating high school, he served in the Vietnam War as a member of the U.S. Navy from 1968 to 1969, Later, he moved to San Diego, California where he began to write poetry and TV scripts.

Besides playing the beloved character 'Uncle Phil' on the show (ranked as one of TV Guide's "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time") opposite Will Smith, Avery was a prominent voice actor who supplied the voice of Shredder in the original "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" television cartoon and the voice of War Machine in the animated "Iron Man" series.

Avery had recently undergone open heart surgery and reportedly died from complications from the operation. Avery is survived by his wife Barbara, whom he had been married to for 26 years, his mother, Florence, and his step-son, Kevin Waters.

Correction: Previously reported hospital in which Avery died , Glendale Adventist Medical Center, was incorrect.

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