James Avery, who played Will Smith's Uncle Phil in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and voiced Shredder in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, has died at age 68. (Note: There are conflicting reports about his age; some say 65, others 68.)
According to TMZ, he passed away in a Los Angeles hospital last night — New Year's Eve 2013 — from complications after recent open heart surgery. In an extra sad note, his wife Barbara had reportedly been at his hospital bedside, but stepped away for a moment; when she returned, she learned that he had just died.
James had dozens of TV and film credits to his name, from That '70s Show, Grey's Anatomy and Judging Amy to the animated series Iron Man. You may also remember him from that Kaplan University commercial.
His Fresh Prince character, Philip Banks, was ranked No. 34 on TV Guide's list of the 50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time.
Alfonso Ribeiro played his TV son, Carlton Banks, and he reacted to James' death in a Facebook post: "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."
Yes, he will. Relive some great moments with Uncle Phil in the video below.
RIP, great man!