logo
Getty Images
Getty Images

James Avery — inside the 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air' Star's Life and Death

Edduin Carvajal
May 11, 2020
10:30 A.M.
Share this pen
FacebookFacebookTwitterTwitterLinkedInLinkedInEmailEmail

Late actor James Avery impacted not only the lives of Will Smith and the rest of the "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" cast but also those of an entire generation.

Advertisement

Born in Virginia in November 1945, and raised in Atlantic City, New Jersey, James was a very talented actor who served in the Navy during the Vietnam War between 1968 and 1969.

"Every young man needs an Uncle Phil."

James Avery on July 31, 2002 in Beverly Hills, California | Photo: Getty Images

James Avery on July 31, 2002 in Beverly Hills, California | Photo: Getty Images

Advertisement

HIS CAREER BEFORE BECOMING AN ACTOR

When he left the military, he moved to San Diego and started writing TV scripts and poetry for PBS, which eventually earned him an Emmy Award for production and got him a scholarship to UC San Diego.

James then attended Thurgood Marshall College, which is part of UCSD's six-college system. In 1976, he graduated with a bachelor's degree in drama and literature and, shortly after that, he tried his luck as an actor.

Advertisement

In the early 80s, he began his acting job working in projects like "Hill Street Blues" and "Cagney & Lacey." Apart from that, he used to voice characters in animated series, including "SuperFriends," "Rambo," and "Rock 'n' Wrestling."

James' career skyrocketed in 1990, though, when he landed the part of Uncle Philip Banks in "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air."

Advertisement

JAMES AVERY IN "FRESH PRINCE"

Uncle Phil was a judge and owner of the house where most of the events of the sitcoms took place. James' character appeared in more than 140 episodes, and nowadays, he is considered one of the greatest TV dads in history.

As per his love life, he was married only once. The lucky one was Barbara Avery, and although they didn't have children together, James became the stepfather of Barbara's son, Kevin Waters.

Advertisement

Once James became a successful actor, he and his wife established the James Avery Scholarship, which aims to support Black students who choose to study performing arts at UC San Diego. In 2012, James opened up about his philanthropy:

"The gift of success obligates one to give back. I have been blessed with success, and that is why there is a James Avery Scholarship at UCSD."

Advertisement

JAMES' DEATH

On December 31, 2013, the world was shocked after learning about James Avery's death. The 68-year-old man passed away from complications following open-heart surgery at Glendale Memorial Medical Center.

Shortly after James died, Will Smith, Alfonso Ribeiro, and some other celebrities shared their condolences and paid tributes to him on social media.

Advertisement

The "Bad Boys" star, for example, shared a photo on his Facebook page showing himself next to James and the rest of the cast of "The Prince of Bel-Air" with the following caption:

"Some of my greatest lessons in acting, living, and being a respectable human being came through James Avery. Every young man needs an Uncle Phil."

Advertisement

PAYING TRIBUTE TO UNCLE PHIL

Alfonso, who broke the news of his death on social media, admitted that James was a second father to him. Apart from stating that he would miss him greatly, the actor added that the world had lost a special man.

In late April this year, some members of the cast of the show virtually got together to pay tribute to Uncle Phil on Will Smith's Snapchat show "Will from Home," and it was quite emotional.

Advertisement

Alfonso, Will, Daphne Maxwell Reid, Joseph Marcell, Karyn Parsons, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and Tatyana Ali had to fight back tears while watching a compilatory video of some of the most memorable scenes that they shot with James back in the day.

One of them was the iconic "how come he don't want me" that Will and the late actor shot together. The "Men in Black" star talked about it in an interview with Streaming Black in 2018.

He admitted to having trouble getting it done perfectly, which was what James always expected from him. Fortunately, after listening to his advice, Will managed to deliver one of the most striking acts of his career.

James Avery definitely impacted the lives of an entire generation by portraying the type of father that everybody would like to have.

Advertisement
info
Please fill in your e-mail so we can share with you our top stories!
By subscribing, you agree to our Privacy Policy
Advertisement
Related posts

James Drury Died Months after Wife of 40 Years – He Had Several Heartbreaks before His 'Wonderful Marriage'

March 02, 2022

James Garner Became 'Greatest Father' after Adopting Wife's Child despite Being Unloved by His Stepmom

April 18, 2022

James Gandolfini’s Will Left Family with $30M Hole after Death - His ‘Beloved Son’ Did Not Get Any Cash

February 02, 2022

Pierce Brosnan Suffered ‘Cruelness’ as a Child after Mom and Dad Left Him: ‘It Was Ugly'

February 26, 2022

Tika Sumpter Weds Co-star Husband after She 'Tamed His Ego' & Hid Her Pregnancy for 7 Months

May 18, 2022

James Arness’ 1st Wife Left Behind the Glitz After Their Split - His 2nd Wife Stayed by His Side Until the End

March 01, 2022

James Garner Said Wife Lois’ Job Was to Make His Life ‘Comfortable’ after His Parents Condemned Their Marriage

March 30, 2022

Who Is Pierce Brosnan Married To? Meet the James Bond Star’s ‘Luscious Love’ Keely Shaye Smith

May 16, 2022

James Earl Jones Who Was Raised by 'The Most Racist' Person Found True Love in an Interracial Marriage

April 30, 2022

James Stewart Met Love of His Life at Christmas Party & Became a Recluse after Cancer Took Her from Him

April 28, 2022

James Van Der Beek Admits to Be More ‘Present’ and ‘Honest’ With Second Wife Whom He Met While Still Married

March 01, 2022

James MacArthur Called Wife of 25 Years ‘Hard Boiled’ Yet Their Marriage Was ‘Better than Anything'

February 20, 2022

LL Cool J Discovered the Grandparents Who 'Embraced' Him Were Not Biologically Related to Him

March 31, 2022

Robert Redford Wed 1st Wife to 'Save His Life' after His Mom's Death — They Had 4 Children & Lost 2

March 10, 2022