James Avery Passes Away

Very sad news to start the new year! James Avery, best known for his role as Uncle Phil on "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air," died on Tuesday, his publicist confirmed to ABC News. The actor died from complications of open heart surgery, Cynthia Snyder informed the media.

Before becoming an actor, James served in the Navy in the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1969. He returned back to the States, moving to San Diego, and wrote poetry and TV scripts for PBS, including the Emmy Award-winning production, "Ameda Speaks: Poet James Avery." In addition to Fresh Prince, he also lent his voice to several animated TV series, including "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and "Iron Man."  Most recently, James worked on Zach Braff's film, "Wish I Was Here," which will premiere at the Sundance film festival.

"Fresh Prince" co-star Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Carlton, tweeted earlier today:
Prayers go out to his family and friends! Of course, James was best known to us all as Uncle Phil on a series that is timeless. His legacy as an actor, and more importantly, as a stand up person to his loved ones will live on! Here is my favorite scene from the show. Emotional, yet powerful. RIP James Avery.

Image via Michael Tran/Getty Images

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