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

James Avery, best known for his role as Uncle Phil on 'Fresh Prince of Bel Air,' has died. He was 68.
January 1, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
James Avery, best known for his role as Uncle Phil on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," has died. He was 68.

Avery's manager confirmed his death in a statement Wednesday. Avery died Tuesday in Glendale, Calif., due to complications from open heart surgery, the statement said.

On "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," Avery played Will Smith's uncle, the honorable Philip Banks. Alfonso Ribiero, who played his son Carlton on "Fresh Prince," tweeted about Avery's death.

"I'm deeply saddened to say that James Avery has passed away. He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly," Ribiero said.

Avery's 30-plus year career included work on "Amen," "L.A. Law," "NYPD Blue" and as the voice of shredder on the animated TV show, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."

He most recently worked on the film, "I Wish I was Here," directed by Zach Braff. The film is set to premiere at Sundance.

Avery was born in Virginia and served in Vietnam after graduating high school. He graduated from UC San Diego with a bachelor's degree in drama and literature.

He is survived by his wife, Barbara, his mother, Florence, and step son, Kevin Waters.

Correction: James Avery died at the age of 68, not at the age of 67, as previously reported in a statement from his manager.