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'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air' star, James Avery, dies at 68

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According to CNN on Jan. 1, actor James Avery, 68, who played the beloved Uncle Phil on the hit sitcom "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," died Tuesday Dec. 31.

Avery's manager, Toni Benson, said the actor died because of complications from the open-heart surgery he had on Nov. 11. He was recovering in a hospital in Glendale, California.

"The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" co-star Alfonso Ribeiro who played the role of Avery's son Carlton 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.

Jada Pinkett Smith, wife of "Fresh Price" star Will Smith, who played the role of Avery's nephew, posted condolences Wednesday on her Facebook page. She wrote:

"Our condolences to aunt Florence (his mother), Miss Barbara (his wife) and all those who loved him."

Avery was best known for his portrayal of the father and attorney who later became a judge on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" that aired from 1990 to 1996. As Will Smith's character's uncle, Banks was the stern but loving father figure. He was ranked #34 in TV Guide's "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time."

Avery appeared in many other television shows and movies, including "CSI," "That '70s Show," "The Closer" and several appearances as a judge on "L.A. Law."

His most recent role was in Zach Braff's new film, "Wish I Was Here," which will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival later this month.

Avery is survived by his wife of 26 years, Barbara Avery, his mother, Florence Avery of Atlantic City, and a stepson, Kevin Waters.

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