The ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ cast reunited on Will Smith’s Snapchat to pay their respects to the late James Avery, who played Uncle Phil.
The tribute was part of the finale to Will Smith‘s new Snapchat show, “Will From Home” … and you can see how much James meant to the ‘Fresh Prince’ cast.
Uncle Phil’s greatest moments rolled on the screen while Will Smith and some of the show’s favorite cast members — Alfonso Ribeiro, Tatyana Ali, Karyn Parsons, Joseph Marcell, Daphne Maxwell Reid and DJ Jazzy Jeff — watch and tear up.
TMZ broke the story that James Avery died on New Year’s Eve in 2013 from complications following open-heart surgery.
Watch the emotional tribute here:
James Avery began his career in the 1980s with appearances in television series such as NBC’s Hill Street Blues, Showtime sitcom Brothers as Bubba Dean, Amen, FM and L.A. Law. In the 1990s, he achieved prominence for his role as Philip Banks (Uncle Phil) in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, a character that was ranked #34 in TV Guide’s “50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time.”
After The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air ended, he played the lead role of Alonzo Sparks in the UPN comedy series Sparks that lasted for two seasons. Other notable roles in television included Dr. Crippen in The Closer, Charles Haysbert in The Division, and Michael Kelso’s commanding officer at the police academy late in the series run of That ’70s Show.
Among his most notable voice credits are the voices of Shredder in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series, and James Rhodes/War Machine in the 1990s Iron Man series. He also provided the voice of Junkyard Dog in Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling (1985–1986), Turbo in Rambo and the Forces of Freedom (1986), and Haroud Hazi Bin in Aladdin (1994).
Avery was the commencement speaker for his alma mater, UC San Diego’s Thurgood Marshall College in 2007, and again in 2012. In 1995 he appeared in The Brady Bunch Movie.
Sadly, on December 31, 2013, James Avery died at the age of 68 from complications following open-heart surgery at Glendale Memorial Medical Center.
Janet Hubert, who portrayed his original on-screen wife Vivian on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, said after his death, “RIP James, all the world is a stage, and we are all merely players in this production called LIFE.”
Will Smith commented on Avery’s death, saying, “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. Rest in peace.”
Joseph Marcell said Avery a “gentle giant.”
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