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“Fresh Prince” Uncle, Actor James Avery Dies at 68

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The actor who portrayed Uncle Phillip Banks on the hit television series "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air", James Avery, died from complications of heart surgery on December 31 in Hollywood. He was 68 and had recently undergone open heart surgery in Los Angeles. Avery was a native of Atlantic City, NJ, where his mother encouraged him to pursue training as both a writer and an actor. Following service in the naval branch of the military during the 1970s, Avery got his first film break as one of the dancers appearing in the 1980 classic comedy "Blues Brothers."

In addition to his starring role on "Fresh Prince", the series that launched the career of the then teenaged Will Smith, Avery kept busy as a voice over actor, providing the voices for many animated cartoon characters in the 1980s, including "Iron Man" and "Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles". He enjoyed numerous guest starring television roles before becoming nationally recognized on "Fresh Prince." His co-star Alfonso Ribeiro posted on his Twitter account that he considered Avery a "second father" and expressed extreme sadness on his unexpected passing. Jada Pinkett Smith and husband Will expressed their condolences to Avery's family with a post on her Facebook page.

“I was hoping to start the new year differently but we have lost yet another friend,” wrote Jada Pinkett Smith on Facebook. “Our condolences to aunt Florence (his mother), Miss Barbara (his wife) and all those who loved him. Rest in peace James.”

On The Web:
James Avery, star of 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,' dies at 68
http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/01/showbiz/celebrity-news-gossip/james-avery-obit/
James Avery Dead: 'Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air' Actor Dies At 65
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/01/james-avery-dead-dies_n_4528384.html?flv=1

Karen is a Toronto based writer, and has been writing full-time for eCanadaNow since May of 2011, covering many topics including politics and world issues. Prior to her work writing and editing for eCanadaNow, she worked as a freelance journalist. You can email Karen at [Karene at ecanadanow.com]

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