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.”