There is some sad news breaking when it comes to a classic TV show on this New Year’s Day. James Avery, best known for playing Uncle Phil on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” over the course of its entire run on TV, has passed away at the age of 68. This news was confirmed by many of his former co-stars online, and is spreading throughout the entertainment community quickly.
Avery may have a particular role that he has become iconic with, but it would be silly to say that his entire TV career is limited to just this NBC hit alongside Will Smith. Avery also voiced the character of Shredder during the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” cartoon back during its heyday, and an arc on “The Closer,” and even guest roles on “That 70’s Show” as well as “Grey’s Anatomy.” He was acting regularly even in the past year leading up to his death.
At the moment, there is no cause of death given, but the other sad part of this news is that it comes a few years after there was an enormous rumor that spread out across the entire internet that he had passed away. Eventually, he was forced to deny it, and expressed concern at the time that the news getting out there could even end up impacting the sort of roles he was getting in the future.
Specifically, Avery’s co-star Alfonso Riberio shared the following sweet message about him on Twitter:
“I’m deeply saddened to say that James Avery has passed away. He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly.”
Smith himself has yet to comment on his co-star’s passing, but he had shown a fondness for the show that made him a household name throughout the past two decades. While many stars shy away from their original work, Smith was cool enough to even perform the theme song on a few occasions here and there.
Our thoughts are with Avery’s family during this difficult time.