Actor James Avery arrives at the Palm Pre Launch Event to Benefit Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America held at Raleigh Studios on June 3, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
James Avery, who played Will Smith's Uncle Phil on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, has died. He was 65.
Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Avery's son on Fresh Prince, tweeted: "I'm deeply saddened to say that James Avery has passed away. He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly."
Avery's publicist, Cynthia Snyder, told The Associated Press that Avery died Tuesday in Glendale, California, following complications from open heart surgery.
Avery liked to say that the way to be an actor was to act, and he had a busy and diverse career before, during and after Fresh Prince. His TV credits included The Closer, Soul Food, Amen and LA Law, and among his many films were Fletch, Nightflyers and 8 Million Ways to Die. His voice alone brought him many jobs, notably as Shredder in the animated TV series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
According to Snyder, he will be seen in the film Wish I Was Here, directed by Zach Braff and scheduled to premiere later this month at the Sundance festival.
Avery grew up in Atlantic City and served in the Navy in Vietnam in the late 1960s. After returning to the states, he settled in California and studied drama and literature at the University of California at San Diego.
He is survived by his wife, Barbara, and stepson Kevin Waters.
By Alison Maxwell