Veteran actor James Avery, best known for his iconic role as “Uncle Phil (Banks)” on the classic series “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” died on New Year’s Eve from complications stemming from heart surgery, reports TMZ. He was 68-years-old.
Sources close to the actor tell TMZ he died in an L.A. hospital last night. Avery had recently undergone surgery for an undisclosed illness and took a turn for the worse late yesterday.
And we’re told … his wife, Barbara, had been at his bedside but left for a short period of time and when she came back … she learned he had just died.
Avery starred in dozens of TV shows through the years — shows like “Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Closer,” “L.A. Law,” and “The Jeffersons.” This past year, he appeared in three TV movies — most recently, “Go, Bolivia, Go!”
Alfonso Ribeiro, who played the role of Avery’s TV son, Carlton Banks, expresses his grief on social media, tweeting:
I’m deeply saddened to say that James Avery has passed away. He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly. pic.twitter.com/UrW0EeBFbO
— Alfonso Ribeiro (@alfonso_ribeiro) January 1, 2014
Ribeiro also posted on Facebook: “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.”
Jada Pinkett Smith expressed her condolences via Facebook:
“Happy New Year everyone! I was hoping to start the new year differently but we have lost yet another friend. James Avery who we all lovingly know as Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince has passed.
“Our condolences to aunt Florence (his mother), Miss Barbara (his wife) and all those who loved him.
“Rest in peace James.”
This story is developing…
See one of the most powerful Uncle Phil/Will moments below: