James Avery Dies: Uncle Phil of ‘Fresh Prince’ Dead at 65, Says Alfonso Ribeiro

January 1, 2014 Updated: July 18, 2015

James Avery, who played Philip Banks–or Uncle Phil–on the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” died on New Year’s Eve, it has been reported.

He was 65.

“Fresh Prince” star Alfonso Ribeiro confirmed Avery’s death on Twitter. 

“I’m deeply saddened to say that James Avery has passed away. He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly,” Ribeiro, who played Cartlon Banks on the show, wrote on Twitter.

On Facebook, Ribeiro wrote that 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 missed.”

Sources told the TMZ website that he died in a Los Angeles-area hospital last night. He recently underwent surgery for an illness that was not disclosed.

His wife, Barbara, said that she was with Avery at his bedside on Tuesday night. When she went out to get something to eat, he had passed away, a source told the website.

It’s been reported that Avery died of complications from open heart surgery.

Avery had been in numerous TV shows, including “Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Jeffersons,” and “L.A. Law.” He also appearaed in movies and did voice acting, including the voice of Shredder in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

On Twitter, people expressed their condolences.

“James Avery has passed away and I’m freaking devastated he was so amazing,” wrote one.

Another added: “R.I.P james avery you were one of the greats.”

Said another on Twitter, “RIP uncle phil, what a great actor fresh prince was one of the best shows of all time.”

Another added: “Big part of my childhood. James Avery was so funny on fresh prince, equally a great dramatic actor too. Such a loss.”


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