Actor James Avery, who played the popular role of Uncle Phil in hit tv series Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, has died at 65.
Avery’s publicist told The Associated Press that the actor died Tuesday in Glendale, Calif., in the wake of complications from open heart surgery.
On “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” which helped launch rapper-actor Will Smith to superstardom, Avery played Philip Banks, the rich relation who provides a stable home environment to Smith’s rapping, puckish character–and who must also endure his constant hijinks. The show ran from 1990-1996, and is fondly remembered for bringing hip-hop culture (or at least an easygoing version of it) to prime time, and for its jaunty rap theme song.
Actor Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Avery’s son on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” had a note posted on his Twitter page reading “I’m deeply saddened to say that James Avery has passed away. He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly.”
Actor Will Smith’s Twitter page retweeted the news about Avery’s death.