Some sad news to begin 2014 with. James Avery, a well-known and respected TV and voice actor, has passed away at the age of 68. Avery died on New Year’s Eve in a Los Angeles hospital after a battle with an illness he was struggling to recover from. The actor had open-heart surgery in November just before Thanksgiving, which resulted in weeks of complications.
Avery appeared in numerous TV shows, animated series, video games, movies, and TV movies over the course of his career, but two stand tall above the others. The first is The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, where the actor played Will Smith’s Uncle Phil in 147 episodes of the series. The second is the popular animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series that ran from 1987 to 1996, where he voiced the infamous villain Shredder in 110 episodes.
Fresh Prince co-star Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Carlton Banks, broke the news via social media, saying:
“The world has lost a truly special man. I am very saddened to say that James Avery has passed. Even though he played my father on TV, he was a wonderful father figure to me in life. He will be deeply missed.”
The actor made his debut in 1980’s Blues Brothers, in the uncredited role of “Man dancing outside Ray’s shop.” He’d go on to appear or lend his voice to roles in The Jefferson, Hill Street Blues, The Dukes of Hazzard, The A-Team, Moonlighting, L.A. Law, The Legend of Prince Valiant (as Sir Bryant), Aladdin the TV series (as Haroud Hazi Bin), Iron Man the animated TV series (as James Rhodes/War Machine, Whirlwind), Sparks, The Prince of Egypt, Dr. Dolittle 2, That ’70s Show, Star Trek: Enterprise, and The Closer.
Avery was working as recently as September, when he filmed a role in Zach Braff’s Kickstarter project, Wish I Was Here.
1945 — 2013
[Source: via THR]