Actor James Avery, who is most well-known for playing Uncle Phil on the hit 1990s NBC sitcom, “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” died yesterday from complications of open heart surgery. The television performer, who was also known for writing television scripts for PBS in the beginning of his career, was 65.
After Avery served in the military during the Vietnam War between 1968 and 1969, the actor moved to San Diego, California. While there, he began writing the scripts for the non-profit public broadcaster. The Atlantic City native also wrote poetry for PBS, including the Emmy Award-winning production, “Ameda Speaks: Poet James Avery,” ABC is reporting.
While receiving acclaim for his writing, Avery was most recognized for his acting. Besides appearing on “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” he also appeared in such films as “Dr. Dolittle 2” and “License to Drive.” The performer most recently worked on Zach Braff’s comedy-drama, “Wish I Was Here,” which will premiere at the Sundance film festival.
Avery was remembered by his “Fresh Prince” co-star Alfonso Ribeiro on Twitter, who confirmed the news of his former co-star’s passing:
I’m deeply saddened to say that James Avery has passed away. He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly.
Besides Ribeiro, Avery is survived by his family. He leaves behind his wife of 26 years, Barbara, as well as his stepson, Kevin Waters, and his mother, Florence.
Written by: Karen Benardello