James Avery (actor)
James LaRue Avery (November 27, 1945 – December 31, 2013) was an American actor, comedian, voice over artist and poet. A prolific television actor, he is best remembered for his portrayal of patriarch “Uncle Phil” Banks in the sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. His voice acting work was mostly in animated series.
James Avery at the HAL Awards in September 2013
|Born||James LaRue Avery
November 27, 1945
Suffolk, Virginia, U.S.
|Died||December 31, 2013
Glendale, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Complications from open heart surgery|
|Spouse(s)||Barbara Avery (m. 1988)|
Avery was born in Pughsville, Virginia (now part of Suffolk, Virginia) on November 27, 1945, and raised in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He served in the Vietnam War as a member of the U.S. Navy from 1968 to 1969, after graduating high school. Later on, he moved to San Diego, California, where he began to write poetry and TV scripts for PBS.
He won an Emmy for production during his tenure there and then received a scholarship to UC San Diego, where he attended Thurgood Marshall College (then Third College), earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in drama and literature in 1976.
Avery began his career in the 1980s with appearances in television series such as Amen, FM and L.A. Law. In the 1990s, he achieved prominence for his role as Phillip 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." He played the lead role of Alonzo Sparks in the 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 (1985–86), 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 1988, Avery married Barbara. He had no children of his own, but was a stepfather to his wife's son, Kevin Waters.
On December 31, 2013, Avery died aged 68, from complications following open heart surgery at Glendale Memorial Medical Center. He was survived by his mother, Florence Avery (1924–2016), as well as his wife and stepson.
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 by 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 called Avery a "gentle giant."
The song "No Role Modelz" from 2014 Forest Hills Drive by J. Cole pays tribute to Avery. It contains the lyric "First things first rest in peace Uncle Phil. For real, you the only father that I ever knew."
Avery's remains were later cremated and scattered near the Pacific Ocean.
|1980||The Blues Brothers||Man Dancing||Uncredited role|
|1980||The Stunt Man||Uncredited role|
|1985||Appointment With Fear||Connors|
|1986||Fist of the North Star||Fang||Voice role (1991 Streamline Pictures dub)|
|1986||The Eleventh Commandment||Larry|
|1986||8 Million Ways to Die||Deputy D.A.|
|1986||The Ladies Club||Joe|
|1987||Deadly Daphne's Revenge||Det. Wood|
|1987||Three for the Road||Clarence|
|1988||License to Drive||Les' DMV Examiner|
|1991||The Linguini Incident||Phil|
|1991||Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time||Lt. Coberly|
|1991||Shout||Midnight Rider||Voice role|
|1993||Little Miss Millions||Agent Noah Hollander|
|1995||The Brady Bunch Movie||Mr. Steve Yeager|
|1997||Spirit Lost||Dr. Glidden|
|1998||The Prince of Egypt||Additional Voices||Voice role|
|1999||Out in Fifty||Cappy|
|2000||Dancing in September||Mr. Warner|
|2001||Chasing Sunsets||Mr. Burken|
|2001||Dr. Dolittle 2||Eldon|
|2004||Raise Your Voice||Mr. Gantry|
|2004||Hair Show||Seymour Gold|
|2005||The Third Wish||George|
|2005||A Christmas Wish||Saint||Short film|
|2006||Restraining Order||Judge Sanderson|
|2006||Think Tank||Uncle John|
|2007||Who's Your Caddy?||Caddy Mack|
|2007||Divine Intervention||Rev. Matthews|
|2008||His Good Will||Mr. Cooper||Short film|
|2008||Leave with It||Dr. Leon||Short film|
|2009||Let the Game Begin||Mark Hanley|
|2009||Steppin: The Movie||The Chancellor|
|2010||The Grind||Modelo Snipes|
|2014||Wish I Was Here||Audition actor #2||Avery's last performance in a film|
|1983||Antony and Cleopatra||Mardian||TV movie|
|1983||Tales of the Gold Monkey||Gabriel||Episode: "God Save the Queen"|
|1983||Newhart||Construction Guy||Episode: "Heaven Knows Mr. Utley"|
|1983||The Jeffersons||Coleman||Episode: "Father Christmas"|
|1983, 1984||Simon & Simon||Huey, Roy||2 episodes|
|1984||Hill Street Blues||Tolliver||3 episodes|
|1984||Legmen||No Neck||Episode: "I Shall Be Re-Released"|
|1984||Hardcastle and McCormick||Episode: "Scared Stiff"|
|1984||Webster||Judge||Episode: "Webster Long (2)"|
|1984||Fist of the North Star||Fang (voice)|
|1984||The Dukes of Hazzard||Charlie||Episode: "Cool Hands, Luke & Bo"|
|1984, 1985||Brothers||Bubba Dean||2 episodes|
|1985||Street Hawk||Councilman Waters||Pilot|
|1985||St. Elsewhere||Mental Patient||Episode: "Give the Boy a Hand"|
|1985||Cagney & Lacey||Episode: "Who Says It's Fair" (1)|
|1985||Scarecrow and Mrs. King||Nabuti||Episode: "Murder Between Friends"|
|1985||Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling||Junkyard Dog (voice)|
|1985||George Burns Comedy Week||Episode: "The Assignment"|
|1985||The A-Team||Episode: "The Heart of Rock n' Roll"|
|1985||Moonlighting||Reuben King||Episode: "Twas the Episode Before Christmas"|
|1986||Karate Kommandos||Additional voices|
|1986||Amazing Stories||Chief Hansen||Episode: "Hell Toupee"|
|1986||Rambo and the Forces of Freedom||Turbo (voice)|
|1986||Samaritan: The Mitch Snyder Movie||Hank Dudney||TV movie|
|1986||Sunday Drive||Oliver||TV movie|
|1986−1989||The Real Ghostbusters||Killerwatt / Judge / Additional voices||3 episodes|
|1986−1988, 1989||Amen||Arnie Samples / Rev. Crawford||5 episodes|
|1987||Jake's M.O.||Abel Barnes||Unsold pilot/TV movie|
|1987||Jake and the Fatman||Episode: Fatal Attraction|
|1987, 1989||Valerie||Judge N. Keller / Mr. Erdman||2 episodes|
|1987−1993||Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles||Shredder (voice)||103 episodes|
|1988||Dallas||Judge Fowler||Episode: "Malice in Dallas"|
|1988||Beauty and the Beast||Winslow|
|1988||227||Jo-Jo||Episode: "My Aching Back"|
|1988||Heart and Soul||Harlan Sinclair||Pilot|
|1988−1992||L.A. Law||Judge Michael Conover||9 episodes|
|1989||Full Exposure: The Sex Tapes Scandal||Earl||TV movie|
|1989||Roe vs. Wade||TV movie|
|1989||FM||Quentin Lamoreaux||TV Series|
|1989||A Different World||The Pin Punisher||Episode: "To Have and Have Not"|
|1989||Turn Back the Clock||Physical Therapist||TV movie|
|1990||Night Court||Judge Hopkins||Episode: "Wedding Bell Blues" (1)|
|1990||To My Daughter||TV movie|
|1990−1996||The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air||Philip Banks||148 episodes|
|1991||Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles||Shredder (voice)||TV movie|
|1991||The Legend of Prince Valiant||Sir Bryant (voice)||9 episodes|
|1992||Roc||Dale Hammers||Episode: "The Car Accident from Heaven"|
|1993||Without Warning: Terror in the Towers||Fred Ferby||TV movie|
|1993−1994||American Experience||Charles Hamilton Houston / Narrator||2 episodes|
|1994||Hart to Hart: Old Friends Never Die||Chess Player||TV movie|
|1994||A Friend to Die For||Agent Gilwood||TV movie|
|1994||Aladdin||Haroud Hazi Bin (voice)||9 episodes|
|1994−1995||Iron Man||War Machine (voice)||7 episodes|
|1995||ABC Weekend Special||Headman (voice)||Episode: "Jirimpimbira – An African Folk Tale"|
|1995||Murder One||Judge Nathaniel Alexander||Episode: "Chapter Five"|
|1996||Gargoyles||The Shaman (voice)||Episode: "Walk About"|
|1996||Captain Simian & the Space Monkeys||Gor-illa/Gor (voice)||26 episodes|
|1996||Spider-Man||War Machine (voice)||2 episodes|
|1996−1998||Sparks||Alonzo Sparks||40 episodes|
|1996, 1998||In the House||Mediator / Sampson Stanton||2 episodes|
|1997||Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child||Father (voice)||Episode: "The Golden Goose"|
|1997||Extreme Ghostbusters||Danny (voice)||Episode: "Dry Spell"|
|1998||The Advanced Guard||Fred||TV movie|
|1998||You Lucky Dog||Calvin Bridges||TV movie|
|1998||The Wild Thornberrys||Gorilla (voice)||Episode: "Valley Girls"|
|1999||Vengeance Unlimited||Judge Christopher Washington||Episode: "Legalese"|
|1999||Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?||Malcolm Avalon||2 episodes|
|1999||For Your Love||Rev. Hicks||Episode: "Mother Load"|
|1999||Family Law||Episode: "Damages"|
|1999, 2000||Pepper Ann||Mr. Clapper||3 episodes|
|2000||Bull||Prof. Gilbert Granville||Episode: "What the Past Will Bring"|
|2000||One World||William Richard||Episode: "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner"|
|2000||CSI: Crime Scene Investigation||Preston Cash||Episode: "Unfriendly Skies"|
|2000||Two Guys and a Girl||Judge||Episode: "Rescue Me"|
|2000, 2002||Dharma & Greg||Walter||2 episodes|
|2001||Epoch||Dr. Solomon Holt||TV movie|
|2001||The Jamie Foxx Show||Reverend||Episode: "Always and Forever"|
|2001||Strong Medicine||Harold Jenkins||Episode: "Wednesday Night Fever"|
|2001||The Legend of Tarzan||Chief Keewazi (voice)||3 episodes|
|2001||The Proud Family||Crandall Smythe (voice)||Episode: "Spelling Bee"|
|2001–2002||The Nightmare Room||R.L. Stine||12 episodes|
|2001−2003||Soul Food||Walter Carter||4 episodes|
|2002||Philly||Dean Mark Clivner||Episode: "Here Comes the Judge"|
|2002||Judging Amy||Mr. Ruff||Episode: "Damage Control"|
|2002||Nancy Drew||Prof. Shifflin||TV movie|
|2002−2003||The Division||Charles Haysbert||9 episodes|
|2003||Reba||Judge Samuel Bennett||Episode: "The Feud"|
|2003||Crossing Jordan||Dr. Erkhart||Episode: "Conspiracy"|
|2003||Street Smarts||Contestant||Episode: "May 16, 2003"|
|2003||All About the Andersons||Roscoe||Episode: "Flo's Dream"|
|2003−2004||All of Us||Lucas||2 episodes|
|2004||That '70s Show||Officer Kennedy||3 episodes|
|2004||Charmed||Zola||Episode: "A Call to Arms"|
|2004||NYPD Blue||Steve Pines||Episode: "Great Balls or Ire"|
|2004||Girlfriends||Dr. Couch||Episode: "Maybe Baby"|
|2004||That's So Raven||Presto Jones||Episode: "Opportunity Shocks"|
|2005−2007||The Closer||Dr. Crippen||11 episodes|
|2005||My Wife and Kids||Professor Tillman||Episode: "Study Buddy"|
|2005||Star Trek: Enterprise||General K'Vagh||2 episodes|
|2005||Living With Fran||Mr. Bryant||Episode: "Learning with Fran"|
|2006||Take 3||Judge Sanderson||Episode: "Study Buddy"|
|2008||Eli Stone||Mason Andrews||Episode: "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go"|
|2012||Grey's Anatomy||Sam||Episode: "One Step Too Far"|
|2012||The Young and the Restless||Judge Roy Daley||2 episodes|
|2013||Call Me Crazy: A Five Film||Dr. Beckett||Television film; segment: "Eddie"|
|2013||Hunt for the Labyrinth Killer||Judge Parsons||TV movie|
|1989||Splash Mountain||Br'er Frog|
|1995||Animated Storybook: The Lion King||Narrator|
|2011||Kinect Disneyland Adventures||Br'er Bear|
- Keepnews, Peter (January 1, 2014). "James Avery, 'Fresh Prince' Actor, Dies at 68". The New York Times. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
- "James Avery, Uncle on "Fresh Prince," Dead at 68". NBC Los Angeles. January 1, 2014. Retrieved January 1, 2014.
- Messer, Lesley (January 1, 2014). "'Fresh Prince' Star James Avery Died at 68". Retrieved January 1, 2014.
- Griffin, Jade (February 13, 2014). "Memorial Tribute to Late Actor and UC San Diego Alumnus James Avery Set for March 1". UC San Diego News Center. Retrieved March 7, 2014.
- Heigl, Alex (January 2, 2014). "Watch James Avery Talk About Voicing Shredder in the Ninja Turtles Cartoon". Archived from the original on November 17, 2015. Retrieved November 14, 2015.
- "James Avery". Retrieved January 18, 2016.
- "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - James Avery as Philip Banks". TBS. Archived from the original on January 2, 2014. Retrieved January 1, 2014.
- "Uncle Phil: Fresh Prince Star James Avery Dies". Sky News. January 1, 2014. Retrieved January 1, 2014.
- Respers France, Lisa (January 1, 2014). "James Avery, star of 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,' dies at 68". CNN. Retrieved January 1, 2014.
- Dillon, Nancy; Margaret Eby; Zayda Rivera (January 1, 2014). "James Avery, Fresh Prince of Bel Air star, dies at 65". Daily News. Retrieved January 1, 2014.
- "Will Smith on James Avery Death: 'Every Young Man Needs an Uncle'". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 28, 2017.