Character actor James Avery had commanding roles
NEW YORK — James Avery, the bulky character actor who was tough at home and on the job as the Honorable Philip Banks in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” has died.
Avery's publicist, Cynthia Snyder, told The Associated Press that Avery died on Tuesday in Glendale, Calif., of complications from open heart surgery. He was 68, Snyder said.
Avery, who stood more than 6 feet tall, played the family patriarch and a wealthy attorney and judge on the popular TV comedy that propelled the acting career of Will Smith as Banks' troublemaking nephew.
The sitcom, which aired on NBC from 1990 to 1996, was set in the Banks' mansion, to which Smith's character was sent from Philadelphia when things got tough in his own neighborhood. Fans came to know the imposing Banks as “Uncle Phil.”
Avery liked to say that the way to be an actor was to act, and he had a busy and diverse career before, during and after “Fresh Prince.”
His TV credits included “Grey's Anatomy,” “NYPD Blue” and “Dallas,” and among his many films were “Fletch,” “Nightflyers” and “8 Million Ways to Die.”
His voice alone brought him many jobs, notably as Shredder in the animated TV series “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”
According to Snyder, he will be seen in the film “Wish I Was Here,” directed by Zach Braff and scheduled to premiere this month at the Sundance festival.
Avery grew up in Atlantic City, N.J., and served in the Navy in Vietnam in the late 1960s.
Upon returning to the States, he settled in California and studied drama and literature at the University of California at San Diego.
He is survived by his wife, Barbara, and stepson Kevin Waters.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments â either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.