His acting career began with an uncredited role in the classic film , before guest apperances in shows such as , and .
He then played Judge Michael Conover on and voiced the arch-enemy of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Shredder, before moving on to the role he’s best known for.
Avery was the stern voice of reason in his nephew Will’s life, before growing into somewhat of a father figure in the six seasons of , from 1990 to 1996.
The cast briefly reunited in 2011 at a charity event, and had remained close. Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Phil’s son Carlton on the show, took to Facebook to express his grief.
‘‘The world has lost a truly special man. I am very saddened to say that James Avery has passed,’’ Ribeiro wrote. ‘‘Even though he played my father on TV, he was a wonderful father figure to me in life. He will be deeply missed.’’
Avery was a good friend of Jada Pinkett Smith and husband Will Smith, and Pinkett Smith paid tribute on Facebook while wishing her fans a Happy New Year. “I was hoping to start the new year differently but we have lost yet another friend. James Avery who we all lovingly know as Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince has passed,’’ she wrote. ‘‘Our condolences to aunt Florence (his mother), Miss Barbara (his wife) and all those who loved him. Rest in peace James. J.’’