‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ Star James Avery Dies at 65

James Avery Dead: 'Fresh Prince of

James Avery, the brawny character actor who laid down the law as the Honorable Philip Banks in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” died Tuesday from complications of heart surgery in a Glendale, Calif., hospital. He was 68.

Alfonso Ribeiro who played his son on “Fresh Prince,” remembered him on Twitter.

Avery played Will Smith’s uncle on the popular TV series. His movie credits included “Fletch”  and “8 Million Ways to Die.” He appeared on dozens of TV shows including “Hill St. Blues,” “L.A. Law,” “The Division,” “Soul Food,” “That ’70s Show” and “The Closer.”

Born in Atlantic City, N.J., he served in Vietnam and began writing TV scripts and poetry for PBS. He graduated with a drama degree from UC San Diego. In addition to extensive work as a voiceover actor on productions such as “The Wild Thornberrys” and “Prince of Egypt,” he hosted the PBS travel show “Going Places.”

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  1. . James Avery was the first black actor to play Othello at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego!

  2. Phyllis M. says:

    I only saw him in the Fresh Prince but I enjoyed the Uncle Phil part that he made his own. He’ll be truly missed,

  3. Erik says:

    I do feel a little bad that I can’t name any of his other works beyond Fresh Prince. But that’s a little like feeling bad you can’t name anything a Rolling Stone has done other than be in the Rolling Stones, by which I mean if that’s the only thing you’re famous for, that’s still a helluva great thing! Growing up in the nineties, Fresh Prince was the first program I ever intentionally watched in order, start to end, and I absolutely loved every second. There’re great memories of that show I have, and just as much as Will, Alfonso, and the rest of the cast, there is no one else could have filled this role.

    • Lindore says:

      So sorry to hear about Mr. Avery passing. My heart goes out to him and his family at this time. There will be another Angel sent up to God now. I also grew up watching The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air all my life. Also want say to Will, Alfonso and all the rest of the cast. You made the show what it is today I Thank You for that God Bless everyone take care.

  4. Wanda says:

    I remember James from SPARKS. I met the entire cast. I also met the FRESH PRINCE cast. I am heartbroken, and my prayers go to you all that were privileged to know JAMES AVERY. RIP

  5. Safiya Abdul-Hafiz says:

    James Avery was a great actor. He was a personal friend of my Mother,
    MONTROSE Hagins ( passed away October 2012). My Mother co-starred on several sitcoms with Mr. Avery. She always admired him. He will truly be missed. Safiya, daughter of MONTROSE Hagins

  6. Smooth says:

    Classless writer. This obviously “THIN” writer will probably die by a gun in their own house. Not “bulky”, but just as dead.

  7. he was a great actor. i loved watching him fresh prince.

  8. Kimberly says:

    RIparadise Uncle Phil, we will miss you and yes this is a terrible way “bulky” to describe anyone, shame on the person that wrote that. He was such a nice man, loved the show, xoxo

  9. big daddy D says:

    Not Uncle Phil! Nooooooo!! RIP Mr. Avery.

  10. The “bulky character”? Of all the intros to an article about a well respected thespian, this one should’ve been left on the cutting room floor. That’s not flattering at all.

  11. GeorgeValentin says:

    I always liked Uncle Phil.

  12. Andrew says:

    The guy dies and the first adjective you use to describe him is “bulky”? Classy.

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