US actor James Avery, who played one of my (and millions of others around the world) favourite TV dads of all time, Uncle Phil from the 90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel- Air, passed away yesterday after complications with open heart surgery. It was a very sad way to start the New Year, and of course the tributes have been pouring in, most notably from his TV family on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Alphonso Ribiero, who played James’ onscreen son, confirmed the news many fans were hoping was a hoax (a couple of years ago it was rumoured that James had passed, but it was found to be a ruse), yesterday evening by tweeting:
“I’m deeply saddened to say that James Avery has passed away.
“He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly.”
While Jada Pinkett Smith, who is married to the star of the now defunct sit-com, Hollywood actor Will Smith, posted on Facebook:
“Happy New Year everyone! I was hoping to start the new year differently but we have lost yet another friend.
“James Avery who we all lovingly know as Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince has passed.
“Our condolences to aunt Florence (his mother), Miss Barbara (his wife) and all those who loved him. Rest in peace James.”
Taytana Ali, who played James’s TV daughter, Ashley Banks also tweeted her condolences, saying: ”James was my teacher my protector & the most magnificent actor. We’re feeling his loss very deeply. He’ll always be a part of me #JamesAvery.”
James Avery served in Vietnam in the US Navy from 1968 to 1969, before he began writing TV scripts and poetry for the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). he later appeared in shows such as Greys Anatomy, The Closer and Star Trek: Enterprise, and movies such as Fletch, License to Drive and Doctor Doolittle 2.
A statement issued by his publicist, Tony Benson, said Avery was survived by his wife of 26 years, Barbara, his mother, Florence Avery, and his step-son, Kevin Waters.
The statement added, that James had been working until September 2013 on the Zach Braff film Wish I Was Here, which will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.
Below are some clips of the role that fans will most remember James Avery for… Enjoy!
And here is my favourite ever Uncle Phil moment. This scene always makes me cry and let fans of the show know that the actors (James included) on the show weren’t just good at making us laugh – they could tug at a range of emotions, such was their talents! R.I.P James Avery – Your legacy lives on.