It was learned today that actor James Avery passed on December 31st. He was 68 years old. According to TMZ, Avery had checked into a Glendale, CA hospital to have open heart surgery. After the procedure his health took a turn for the worse.
His wife, Barbara, was by his side during much of his hospitalization. Sadly, when she left briefly, she returned and was told that he had passed in her absence.
James Avery was known to many for his role as Uncle Phil in the popular early 90s sitcom, "Fresh Prince of Bel Air". On the show he played the uncle to character Will, played by the breakout actor, Will Smith. While some are still waiting to hear from the various actors who appeared on the show, one of his former co-stars, Alfonso Ribeiro, did share a heartfelt message on his facebook page a few hours ago:
Other reactions to the loss of the respected actor:
RIP James Avery! You will always be America's favorite television dad.
— Tia Mowry (@TiaMowry) January 1, 2014
Very touching & powerful scene. The way Uncle Phil looks at Will Smith & embraced him. So much pain. RIP James Avery http://t.co/OzYowseLQG
— Etan Thomas (@etanthomas36) January 1, 2014
James Avery was a native of Atlantic City, New Jersey. After high school, he joined the Navy and is a veteran of the Vietnam War, serving from 1968 to 1969. After getting out of the military, Avery moved to San Diego. There he received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Drama and Literature on a scholarship to the University of California at San Diego.
In addition to his role on "Fresh Prince", he also lent his voice to the 90s cartoon version of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" as villain, Shredder. He won an Emmy for his production work at the PBS network.
During the late 80s, Avery met and married the love of his life, who remained married to him until his death. He will be greatly missed by fellow actors and fans of his work.
Image via Alfonso Ribeiro Facebook