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Sad news hit the internet on New Years Day, as reports confirmed that actor James Avery died at the age of 68. Avery, who had an acting career that spanned three decades, is best known for his role as Uncle Phil on the hit 90’s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air – the series that launched its star, Will Smith, into super stardom. Avery had recently finished filming what was to be his final film role in Zach Braff’s independent film Wish I Was Here, which is set to premiere at the upcoming Sundance Film Festival.
Avery’s Fresh Prince co-stars have offered their memories and condolences to his family. Among the online tributes were comments from Alfonso Ribero (who played Avery’s son Carlton on the series), who stated “He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly.” While there has been no direct comment from Smith, his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith posted on the couple’s joint Facebook page “Our condolences to aunt Florence (his mother), Miss Barbara (his wife) and all those who loved him.”
Avery death has been attributed to complications from recent open heart surgery. He is survived by his wife of 23 years, Barbara, his mother, Florence, and his stepson, Kevin Waters.