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James Avery of ‘Fresh Prince’ Dies at 68

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Prominent actor James Avery, 68, died on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2013, in Glendale, California. He grew up in Atlantic City, New Jersey, served in the Navy during the Vietnam War, and later studied drama and literature at the University of California. According to Cynthia Snyder, Avery’s publicist, Avery passed away “due to complications from open heart surgery.”

Avery was best known for his role as Phillip Banks in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” His two on-screen sons were Will Smith and Alfonso Ribeiro, who confirmed the news on Wednesday morning on his personal Facebook page. “The world has lost a truly special man. I am saddened to say that James Avery has passed. Even though he played my father on TV, he was a wonderful father figure to me in life. He will be deeply missed,” Ribeiro wrote.

Avery played roles in a number of television series, including “The Closer,” “That ’70s Show,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Charmed,” “That’s So Raven,” “NYPD Blue,” “Dallas,” and “L.A. Law,” and used his voice in several animated series, including “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Iron Man.” He also acted in numerous movies, such as “Fletch,” “The Prince of Egypt,” and “8 Million Ways to Die.” According to Synder, he will be seen in the film “Wish I Was Here,” which is scheduled to premiere later this month at the Sundance Film Festival.

Avery is survived by Barbara Avery, his wife of twenty-six years, Florence Avery, his mother, and Kevin Waters, his stepson.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

James Avery of ‘Fresh Prince’ Dies at 68
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