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Commentary: Cherished ‘uncle,’ beloved father figure James Avery dies at 68

January 2, 2014

nguyen.1070@osu.edu
James Avery speaks at UC San Diego Thurgood Marshall College graduation in 2012. Avery died at 68 Dec. 31, 2013.  Credit: Courtesy of Akos Kokai, Creative Commons license

James Avery speaks at UC San Diego Thurgood Marshall College graduation in 2012. Avery died at 68, Dec. 31, 2013.
Credit: Courtesy of Akos Kokai, Creative Commons license

A new year brings new losses.

James Avery, otherwise known as Uncle Phillip Banks from the ‘90s sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” died Tuesday at 68 following complications of open heart surgery. He was best known for playing the hard-headed, yet fatherly figure — the opposite of Will Smith in the show.

“Fresh Prince” fans will miss the actor because of his role on the show. Avery, who played the part of a rich judge living in a wealthy Los Angeles suburb with his family, showed viewers what a father should really look like.

Uncle Phil was a kind, loving, stubborn dad. He cared deeply for his children and nephew, Will, making sure his kids made something of themselves and had the best resources available to them.

An iconic moment from the show was an episode called “Mistaken Identity.” In the episode, Uncle Phil bails out his son, Carlton, and Will from jail after they were wrongly arrested for stealing a car.

Even though, it’s been nearly 14 years since the episode aired, I still remember the line Uncle Phil used to threaten the two officers who are holding his nephew and son in the jail cell. Uncle Phil threatens the officers with his legal status as a judge and tells them if they do not let his son and nephew go, he is “going to tie this place up with so much litigation that (their) grandchildren are going to need lawyers.”

Moments like this show the role Avery played as Uncle Phil was filled with passion and love as he did everything he could to take care of his family.

Avery also played roles in other shows as well. He was a voice actor for a character in the 1987-93 animated series “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” He also made guest appearances in popular shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Charmed.”

Avery and his fantastic acting will be missed.


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