James Avery, ‘Uncle Phil’ on ‘Fresh Prince,’ dead at 65

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James Avery, best known for his role as ‘Uncle Phil’ on “Fresh Prince of Bel Air”, has died, according to TMZ. He was 65-years-old.

TMZ is reporting Avery died in an Los Angeles hospital Tuesday night.

According to the TMZ report, Avery had recently undergone surgery for an undisclosed illness and took a turn for the worse late yesterday. CNN is reporting he died from complications after open heart surgery.

Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Carlton on “Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” confirmed the news on his official Facebook page and on Twitter.

Ribeiro wrote: “The world has lost a truly special man. I am very 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.”

A classically trained actor and poet, Avery grew up in Atlantic City, N.J., where he was raised by a single mother. He served in the Navy during the Vietnam War and first appeared onscreen as a dancer in an uncredited role in the 1980 film “The Blues Brothers.”

According to IMDb, after he served in the military, Avery moved to San Diego, Calif., where he began writing TV scripts and poetry for PBS.

“I knew I loved the arts,” Avery said in an interview for the show “Unscripted.” “I knew I wanted to be a writer, but the theater was something I had been involved in before.”

Avery appeared in multiple TV shows and movies including as the voice of Shredder in the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” But his most famous role was as Phillip Banks, the stern but loving uncle to Will Smith’s character on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

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