James Avery dead: Fresh Prince of Bel Air actor dies at 65

Avery played the beloved 'Uncle Phil' on the sitcom. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

(AP/WJLA) - James Avery, the actor who portrayed Uncle Phil on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, died Tuesday at the age of 65.

Avery, an Atlantic City, N.J. native, played Philip Banks on the iconic 1990s sitcom, which ran from 1990 to 1996 and catapulted Will Smith to stardom.

Avery's publicist, Cynthia Snyder, told The Associated Press that Avery died Tuesday. She did not immediately know the cause of death or where he died.

Avery played Smith's uncle on the popular TV series. His movie credits included "Fletch," ''The Prince of Egypt" and "8 Million Ways to Die."

Alfonso Ribiero, Avery's fellow actor on the show who played Carlton Banks, tweeted the news of his passing.

I'm deeply saddened to say that James Avery has passed away. He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly.

— Alfonso Ribeiro (@alfonso_ribeiro) January 1, 2014