TribLIVE

| Obituaries


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Character actor had commanding roles

About The Tribune-Review
The Tribune-Review can be reached via e-mail or at 412-321-6460.
Contact Us | Video | Photo Reprints

Daily Photo Galleries


By The Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

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.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. White Oak residents can sign up through borough police for county’s new registry
  2. Elizabeth council seeks $500,000 state gaming grant to aid flood recovery
  3. North Versailles magisterial judge “retires” but remains on bench
  4. Switch in pairings helps Penguins defensemen find groove in Game 3
  5. Penguins insider: Malkin found confidence in Game 3
  6. Shots fired, Monessen house hit on S. 14th St.
  7. West Mifflin business joins forces with East Allegheny students
  8. SCI-Pittsburgh inmate taken to AGH after ‘severe beating’
  9. Prescription Drug Take Back Day to be observed locally
  10. Husband to stand trial in Derry middle school teacher’s murder
  11. Pennsylvania Gov. Corbett wants candidate Wolf to release tax records
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.