Actor James Avery, who played the beloved Uncle Phil on the hit 1990s sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” has died, his publicist said Wednesday. He was 68.The cause of death was complications from open- heart surgery, said his manager, Toni Benson. Avery had surgery on November 11 and died Tuesday evening at a hospital in Glendale, California, according to Benson.
“Fresh Prince” co-star Joseph Marcell, who played the family butler Geoffrey, told CNN that Avery was “a marvelous man and a truly wonderful actor.” Avery played Philip Banks, the stern but loving uncle to Will Smith’s character on the show. “He strove to present an Uncle Phil that everybody wishes was their uncle,” Marcell said. Avery believed the show was important because the “striving of the African-American ought to have been shown on television,” Marcell said. “What he has done for television, for African-Americans on television is unsurpassable.”
“Fresh Prince” co-star Alfonso Ribeiro tweeted news of Avery’s passing:
“I’m deeply saddened to say that James Avery has passed away,” Ribeiro wrote. “He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly.”
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