James Avery obituary

James Avery Obituary

27.11.45 – 31.12.13

Many will mourn the sad news of the passing of James Avery on New Year’s Eve 2013. He was most famously known as Uncle Phil from the hit sit com ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’.

The show ran for six years between 1990-1996 and repeats still can be viewed regularly on satellite television. That’s great testimony to the first class acting, humour and writing throughout the series. Not only that there’s something rare and very special about an old show that is still watchable, with the ability to elicit laughter even when you know the punch lines coming.

James Avery

James Avery

In a way the clue has always been staring at us in the title. The “Fresh” Prince of Bel Air always remains fresh no matter how many times you watch it. Maybe by clever design or just by chance. Who knows?

Family sit-coms

The Fresh Prince followed on from the much loved and highly successful ‘Cosby Show’ but somehow seems more relevant and far less dated than the Cosby Show. Both shows spawned a genre of African- American sit-coms. 

It’s not something we’ve managed to pull off on this side of the Atlantic. Web series ‘All about the McKenzie’s’ and ‘Meet the Adebanjo’s’ have come closest to attempting this in recent years, but have a long way to go before reaching the dizzying heights attained by James Avery’s hit show.

Its success demonstrated that viewers not only loved the street smart humour and escapades of Will, Carlton and family, but welcomed it’s blending with solid family values and tough love portrayed by Uncle Phil.


James LaRue Avery was born on November 27, 1945 and died on December 31, 2013. He was well liked and know as the “50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time.” He also provided the voice of Shredder in the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles television series, as well the animated series Iron Man and Junkyard Dog in Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling.  He also played Michael Kelso’s commanding officer at the police academy late in the series run of the ’70s Show.

He started his career in California where he began to write poetry and TV scripts, sitcoms, and did voice acting for the animated series mentioned above.  He did marry, however had no children of his own.

On December 31, 2013, Avery died at the age of 68 from complications following open heart surgery in a Los Angeles suburb hospital, Glendale Adventist Medical Center.

RIP James Avery


James Avery was a fresh example of Black fatherhood – The Root 03.01.14

This entry was posted in Comedy Reviews, TV. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to James Avery obituary

  1. Jason says:

    I liked Fresh Prince American sit com. James Avery was funny and a great comedian, with stature. The Cosby show appealed to me more, however. May the Brits continue to push more British black sit coms.

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