When did James Avery die and what was his cause of death?

18 November 2020, 17:00

When did James Avery die and what was his cause of death?
When did James Avery die and what was his cause of death? Picture: Getty

The beloved actor portrayed Uncle Phil in The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air.

The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air cast have reunited to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the hit show - but fans will know that there's one very special person who won't be there.

James Avery, who played Uncle Phil, one of the show's most beloved characters, passed away back in 2013.

His portrayal of Will's firm but loveable uncle sits in the hearts of every single fan of the show, and his legacy is set to be remembered by the rest of the cast in the upcoming reunion show.

"James is the heart of the show," says Tatyana Ali, who portrayed his on-screen daughter, Ashley Banks, on the show.

Will Smith added, "James Avery was this 6 foot 4, Shakespearean beast, and I wanted him to think I was good," before recalling the famous emotional scene between the pair after Will's father abandons him again.

"I fall into his arms at the end of the scene, and he's holding me and the shot pans off, and he whispers in my ear, 'Now that's acting,'" recalls the Hitch actor.

James Avery played Philip Banks on The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, pictures here with Daphne Reid as his on-screen wife Vivian Banks.
James Avery played Philip Banks on The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, pictures here with Daphne Reid as his on-screen wife Vivian Banks. Picture: Getty

How did James Avery die?

James Avery died on December 31, 2013, at Glendale Memorial Medical Center following complications from open heart surgery. He was 68 years old.

Prior to his death, Avery reportedly suffered from several medical problems. TMZ reported that the actor suffered from severe coronary heart disease, as well as end-stage kidney disease and type-2 diabetes.

Tributes poured in from costars and fans alike, with Will Smith commenting, "Some of my greatest lessons in acting, living, and being a respectable human being came through James Avery. Every young man needs an Uncle Phil. Rest in peace."

James Avery passed away on December 31, 2013, following complications from heart surgery.
James Avery passed away on December 31, 2013, following complications from heart surgery. Picture: Getty

Janet Hubert, who portrayed Avery's on-screen wife Vivian during for the first three seasons, said, "RIP James, all the world is a stage, and we are all merely players in this production called LIFE."

Alfonso Ribeiro, who played his on-screen son Carlton, hosted a Memorial Ceremony in his honour and tweeted, "We said goodbye to the amazing James Avery last night. I was honored to host the memorial for Barbara Avery. It was a wonderful tribute and celebration of his life. He will be deeply missed."

"He strove to present an Uncle Phil that everybody wishes was their uncle," said Jospeh Marcell, who played the family butler Geoffrey. "What he has done for television, for African-Americans on television is unsurpassable."

Avery's ashes were spread in the Pacific Ocean, just off the coast of Los Angeles.

Avery starred alongside Karyn Parsons, Joseph Marcell, Janet Hubert, Daphne Maxwell Reid, Alfonso Ribeiro, Tatyana Ali and Will Smith on the show.
Avery starred alongside Karyn Parsons, Joseph Marcell, Janet Hubert, Daphne Maxwell Reid, Alfonso Ribeiro, Tatyana Ali and Will Smith on the show. Picture: Getty

James Avery was born on November 27, 1945 in Pughsville, Virginia, and was raised in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

After moving to San Diego, California, he began writing poetry and TV scripts for PBS, later winning an Emmy for his work there. He also earned a degree in drama and literature after securing a scholarship to UC San Diego.

Avery began starring as Philip Banks on The Fresh Prince in 1990, and continued until the show's end in 1996. His other acting roles include appearances in L.A. Law, Sparks, That 70's Show, The Closer, and The Division.

His notable voice acting roles include Shredder in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series and Haroud Hazi Bin in Aladdin.

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