James Avery's Death: Jada Pinkett Smith, 'Fresh Prince' Co-Stars Pay Tribute
Reba McEntire, Zach Braff and Tyra Banks share their memories on set with Avery, while Hollywood fans tweet their condolences.
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