It was a tragic way to bring in the New Year, with the reported death of James Avery, TV’s Uncle Phil on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Avery passed away yesterday at age 68 from complications with open heart surgery. The cast of the Fresh Prince was deeply saddened by the news.
Joseph Marcell (Geoffrey):
“[Avery was] a marvelous man and a truly wonderful actor. “He strove to present an Uncle Phil that everybody wishes was their uncle.”
Alfonso Ribiero (Carlton):
“I’m deeply saddened to say that James Avery has passed away,” Ribeiro wrote. “He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly.”
Will Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett:
“Our condolences to aunt Florence (his mother), Miss Barbara (his wife) and all those who loved him.”
In addition to his most famous role as Uncle Phil, Avery also voiced Shredder on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series for years, a fact few know. But mostly, he was known as Uncle Phil, Will Smith’s boisterous judge uncle on The Fresh Prince who was one of the most memorable characters from the show, and a truly great ’90s TV father figure. Many of us grew up with him, wishing he was our uncle.
To say goodbye, here’s one of Uncle Phil’s best scenes from Fresh Prince:
[Photo via Mark Mainz/Getty]