James Avery, the actor best known as Will Smith’s Uncle Phil on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, died December 31 in Los Angeles. CNN reports that his manager stated that he died from complications from open heart surgery. He was 65.
Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Avery’s son Carlton on the TV show, tweeted his sadness over the actor’s passing, including a picture of Avery and his wife, Barbara.
I’m deeply saddened to say that James Avery has passed away. He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly. pic.twitter.com/UrW0EeBFbO
NO WAYYY UNCLE PHIL?!! Aww man R.I.P James Avery we’re losing too many good ones..
— Jay Pharoah (@JayPharoah) January 1, 2014
Avery also appeared as Corey Haim’s driving test conductor in License to Drive and as the voice of Shredder in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. His deep, sophisticated, and occasionally foreboding voice made him a popular voice in animated films, including Iron Man and Spider Man in the ’90s.
In a 2007 New York Film Academy interview, Avery said he knew what his role was in the industry:
“You can either be a movie star or an actor. I’m an actor … I’ve done pretty good.”
Image credit: Twitter