James Avery's Death: Jada Pinkett Smith, 'Fresh Prince' Co-Stars Pay Tribute
New Year's Day also marked the death of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star James Avery, due to complications from open heart surgery in Glendale.
The actor, who also voiced Shredder in the 1987-93 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV series and James Rhodes in the short-lived mid-'90s Iron Man animated series, was 68.
Will Smith's wife, actress Jada Pinkett Smith, posted her thoughts to her Facebook page: "Damn. I just heard about James 'Uncle Phil' Avery. One of tv's great 3 dimensional characters. Something hard for African Americans to nab."
Alfonso Ribeiro first published the news on his social media accounts, with Avery's co-stars, colleagues and celebrity fans following suit to offer their condolences:
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— Alfonso Ribeiro (@alfonso_ribeiro) January 1, 2014
James was my teacher my protector & the most magnificent actor. We're feeling his loss very deeply. He'll always be apart of me #JamesAvery— Tatyana Ali (@TatyanaAli) January 1, 2014
RIP James Avery...Thank U for the talks,travel tips and the jazz cd's. A great Friend and Even Better Person...You will be Missed!! #FPOB— Mr Vinyl Destination (@djjazzyjeff215) January 1, 2014
I am deeply saddened by the news of James Avery passing, he was a great man first and actor second. He will be missed....smh— Ross Bagley (@BossRagley) January 1, 2014
I'm lowkey sick about this news...he treated me like family while we were on set.— Ross Bagley (@BossRagley) January 1, 2014
Sending condolences to the family of James Avery, "Uncle Phil" of the Fresh Prince. I'll always remember how warm he was to me on set.— Tyra Banks (@tyrabanks) January 2, 2014
Just heard that James Avery passed away. Such a sweet man. We got to work with him on the REBA show. RIP James.— Reba McEntire (@reba) January 2, 2014
James Avery was a very funny and smart man. He did a cameo as a favor to me in WIWH and had the entire set rolling with laughter. RIP.— Zach Braff (@zachbraff) January 1, 2014
NO WAYYY UNCLE PHIL?!! Aww man R.I.P James Avery we're losing too many good ones..— Jay Pharoah (@JayPharoah) January 1, 2014
RIP James Avery! You will always be America's favorite television dad.— Tia Mowry (@TiaMowry) January 1, 2014
Just saw the news James Avery passed. He was a talented and kind gentleman. Rest in peace. #UnclePhil— CedEntertainer (@CedEntertainer) January 1, 2014