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“Fresh Prince” Actor James Avery Dies at 68
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Actor James Avery died on Tuesday from heart surgery complications, according to The Washington Post. He was best known as Will Smith’s lawyer Uncle Philip Banks on the popular nineties sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. The premise of the show was simple – street kid from Philly goes to live with his rich relatives in California, but the show was a big break for Smith. However, Avery often upstaged a young Smith which means Will learned from one of the best. The show also offered a “genuine portrayal of the African-American experience,” according to The Washington Post’s critic Donna Britt. It was the first show where false TV “blackisms” were never used and the characters were seen as real people and not African American clichés.

Avery was born in Virginia and raised in Atlantic City. He also served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. Aside from Fresh Prince he provided the voice for the evil Shredder villain in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. His credits include Grey’s Anatomy, NYPD Blue, Dallas, The Closer, Star Trek: Enterprise, Charmed and That ’70s Show. He ranked #34 on TV Guide’s list of the “50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time.”

  
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“You are only an actor if you absolutely love it and cannot do anything else. Starving for your art is great in your 20s, but it’s not so great at 35. It has to be absolute love. You can’t worry about being a movie star or anything else. Just love. That’s it,” he once said. Avery was also very insightful when he commented, “Monetary success is not success. Career success is not success. Life, someone that loves you, giving to others, doing something that makes you feel complete and full. That is success. And it isn’t dependent on anyone else.” He is survived by his mother, Florence and his wife, Barbara. He was sixty-eight years old.

Image Credit: Associated Press

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