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The man who acted as Uncle Phil in Fresh Prince of Bel Air together with actor/singer, Will Smith, James Avery is dead.

Fresh Prince of Bel Air Actor, Uncle Phil - James Avery DiesMr. Avery died on New Year’s Eve aged 68 according to his publicist. Popular for his baritone voice, Avery often acted as a judge, professor or doctor in TV shows in the 1980s and 90s. His first big-screen role was an uncredited part in 1980s classic “The Blues Brothers” but his big break for which he is most remembered for is his role as Philip Banks on the 1990s NBC series, who played a role model to the young Will Smith’s character, a fictionalized rapper version of himself.

“I’m deeply saddened to say James Avery has passed away,” his “Fresh Prince” co-star Alfonso Ribeiro tweeted. “He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly.”

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Mr. Avery as Uncle Phil in Fresh Prince of Bel Air together with co-stars, Will Smith.

Avery was born James LaRue Avery in Virginia and raised in New Jersey. He died late Tuesday in hospital in Glendale, outside Los Angeles, “due to complications from open heart surgery,” according to his publicist Cynthia Snyder.

He is survived by his wife of 26 years, Barbara Avery, his mother Florence Avery, and his stepson Kevin Waters. Plans are being made for a memorial service, the spokeswoman said.

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