15:52 02 January 2014
James Avery, star of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, has died after recently undergoing open heart surgery at a Los Angeles hospital.
One of the most popular and acclaimed sitcoms of the 90s, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air cast Will Smith as a young man from Philadelphia and is sent to his posh auntie and uncle's respectable house in Bel Air. The culture clash comedy's deadpan foil for Smith's antics came in the form of James Avery's character of Uncle Phil.
Will Smith's wife Jada Pinkett Smith released a statement: "Happy New Year everyone! I was hoping to start the new year differently but we have lost yet another friend. James Avery who we all lovingly know as Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince has passed.
"Our condolences to aunt Florence (his mother), Miss Barbara (his wife) and all those who loved him. Rest in peace James."
Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Uncle Phil's son Carlton Banks on the show, wrote on his Facebook page: "The world has lost a truly special man. I am very saddened to say that James Avery has passed.
"Even though he played my father on TV, he was a wonderful father figure to me in life. He will be deeply missed."
Avery died on Tuesday with his wife Barbara by his side.
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