James Avery (actor)

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James Avery
James Avery.jpg
Avery in 2001
James LaRue Avery

(1945-11-27)November 27, 1945
DiedDecember 31, 2013(2013-12-31) (aged 68)
  • Actor
  • poet
Years active1980–2013
Barbara Avery(m. 1988)

James LaRue Avery (November 27, 1945 – December 31, 2013) was an American actor, voice actor, and poet. A prolific television actor, he is best remembered for his portrayal of patriarch "Uncle Phil" Banks in the sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air .

A sitcom, clipping for situational comedy, is a genre of comedy centered on a fixed set of characters who carry over from episode to episode. Sitcoms can be contrasted with sketch comedy, where a troupe may use new characters in each sketch, and stand-up comedy, where a comedian tells jokes and stories to an audience. Sitcoms originated in radio, but today are found mostly on television as one of its dominant narrative forms. This form can also include mockumentaries.

<i>The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air</i> Television series starring Will Smith, running from 1990-1996

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is an American sitcom that originally aired on NBC from September 10, 1990, to May 20, 1996. The show stars Will "The Fresh Prince" Smith as a fictionalized version of himself, a street-smart teenager from West Philadelphia who is sent to move in with his wealthy aunt and uncle in their Bel Air mansion after getting into a fight in his hometown. In the series, his lifestyle often clashes with the lifestyle of his relatives in Bel Air. The series ran for six seasons and aired 148 episodes.


Early life

Avery was born on November 27, 1945 in Pughsville, Virginia (now part of Suffolk, Virginia), and was raised in Atlantic City, New Jersey. [1] [2] He served in the Vietnam War as a member of the U.S. Navy from 1968 to 1969, after graduating high school. [3] Later on, he moved to San Diego, California, where he began to write poetry and TV scripts for PBS. [3]

Pughsville is a community in Virginia. It was part of Nansemond County, Virginia which ceased to exist when it was merged into Suffolk, Virginia in the 1970s. The Pughsville community is now in the northern part of Suffolk, Virginia along the border with Chesapeake, Virginia.

Suffolk, Virginia Independent city in Virginia, United States

Suffolk is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of the 2017 census, the estimated population was 90,237. It is the largest city in Virginia by boundary land area as well as the 14th largest in the country.

New Jersey State of the United States of America

New Jersey is a state in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is a peninsula, bordered on the north and east by the state of New York; on the east, southeast, and south by the Atlantic Ocean; on the west by the Delaware River and Pennsylvania; and on the southwest by the Delaware Bay and Delaware. New Jersey is the fourth-smallest state by area but the 11th-most populous, with 9 million residents as of 2017, making it the most densely populated of the 50 U.S. states with its biggest city being Newark. New Jersey lies completely within the combined statistical areas of New York City and Philadelphia. New Jersey was the second-wealthiest U.S. state by median household income as of 2017.

He won an Emmy for production during his tenure there and then received a scholarship to UC San Diego, where he attended Thurgood Marshall College (then Third College), earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in drama and literature in 1976. [4]

Thurgood Marshall College college of the University of California San Diego

Thurgood Marshall College (TMC) is one of the six undergraduate colleges at the University of California, San Diego. The college, named after Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court Justice and lawyer for the landmark 1954 Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education, emphasizes "scholarship, social responsibility and the belief that a liberal arts education must include an understanding of [one's] role in society." Marshall College's general education requirements emphasize the culture of community involvement and multiculturalism; accordingly Marshall houses the minors in Public Service and Film Studies for the campus. Significant academic programs and departments have come out of the college over many decades: Communication, Ethnic Studies, Third World Studies, African American Studies, Urban Studies & Planning, and Education Studies.


Avery began his career in the 1980s with appearances in television series such as Showtime sitcom Brothers as Bubba Dean, Amen , FM and L.A. Law . In the 1990s, he achieved prominence for his role as Phillip Banks (Uncle Phil) in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air , a character that was ranked #34 in TV Guide 's "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time." He played the lead role of Alonzo Sparks in the short-lived UPN comedy series Sparks that lasted for two seasons. Other notable roles in television included Dr. Crippen in The Closer , Charles Haysbert in The Division and Michael Kelso's commanding officer at the police academy late in the series run of That '70s Show .

<i>Amen</i> (TV series) American television sitcom

Amen is an American sitcom produced by Carson Productions that aired on NBC from September 27, 1986 to May 11, 1991. Set in Sherman Hemsley's real-life hometown of Philadelphia, Amen stars Hemsley as the deacon of a church and was part of a wave of successful sitcoms on NBC in the 1980s and early 1990s which featured predominantly black casts – others included The Cosby Show, A Different World, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and 227.

<i>L.A. Law</i> American television series

L.A. Law is an American television legal drama series that ran for eight seasons on NBC, from September 15, 1986 to May 19, 1994.

<i>TV Guide</i> American bi-weekly TV listing magazine

TV Guide is a bi-weekly American magazine that provides television program listings information as well as television-related news, celebrity interviews and gossip, film reviews, crossword puzzles, and, in some issues, horoscopes. The print magazine is owned by NTVB Media, while its digital properties are controlled by the CBS Interactive division of CBS Corporation; the TV Guide name and associated editorial content from the publication are licensed by CBS Interactive for use on the website and mobile app through an agreement with the magazine's parent subsidiary TVGM Holdings, Inc.

Among his most notable voice credits are the voices of Shredder in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series and James Rhodes/War Machine in the 1990s Iron Man series. [5] He also provided the voice of Junkyard Dog in Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling (1985–86), Turbo in Rambo and the Forces of Freedom (1986) and Haroud Hazi Bin in Aladdin (1994).

<i>Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles</i> (1987 TV series) US animated television series produced by Murakami-Wolf-Swenson, running from 1987 to 1996

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is an American animated television series produced by the studio Murakami-Wolf-Swenson and the French company IDDH. The pilot was shown during the week of December 28, 1987 in syndication as a five-part miniseries and the show began its official run on October 1, 1988. Since then the show and franchise has become a worldwide phenomenon. The series featured the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles characters, created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. The property was changed considerably from the darker-toned comic, to make it more suitable for children and the family.

War Machine comic book character

War Machine is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Jim Rhodes first appeared in Iron Man #118 by David Michelinie and John Byrne. The War Machine armor, which became his signature armored battlesuit, was created by Len Kaminski and Kevin Hopgood.

<i>Iron Man</i> (TV series) American animated television series based on Marvel Comics superhero Iron Man

Iron Man, also known as Iron Man: The Animated Series, is an American animated television series based on Marvel Comics' superhero Iron Man. The series aired from 1994 to 1996 in syndication as part of The Marvel Action Hour, which packaged Iron Man with another animated series based on Marvel properties, the Fantastic Four, with one half-hour episode from each series airing back-to-back. The show was backed by a toy line that featured many armor variants.

Avery was the commencement speaker for his alma mater, UC San Diego's Thurgood Marshall College in 2007, and again in 2012. [6]

Personal life

In 1988, Avery married Barbara. [7] He had no children of his own, but was a stepfather to Kevin Waters.[ citation needed ]


On December 31, 2013, Avery died at the age of 68, from complications following open heart surgery at Glendale Memorial Medical Center. [3] [8] [9] [10]

Janet Hubert, who portrayed his original on-screen wife Vivian on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air , said after his death, "RIP James, all the world is a stage, and we are all merely players in this production called LIFE." [11] Will Smith commented on Avery's death by saying, "Some of my greatest lessons in acting, living and being a respectable human being came through James Avery. Every young man needs an Uncle Phil. Rest in Peace." [12] Joseph Marcell called Avery a "gentle giant". [9]

Avery's remains were later cremated and scattered near the Pacific Ocean.



1980 The Stunt Man Man Playing PinballUncredited
1980 The Blues Brothers Man DancingUncredited
1985 Fletch Detective #2
1985 Appointment with Fear Connors
1985 Stoogemania Gulch
1986 Fist of the North Star [13] FangVoice, (1991 Streamline Pictures dub)
1986The Eleventh CommandmentLarry
1986 8 Million Ways to Die Deputy D.A.
1986 The Ladies Club Joe
1986 Extremities Security Guard
1987 Three for the Road Clarence
1987 Nightflyers Darryl
1987Deadly Daphne's RevengeDet. Wood
1987Jake's M.O.Abel Barnes
1988 License to Drive Les' DMV Examiner
1991 Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time Lt. Coberly
1991 Shout Midnight RiderVoice
1991 The Linguini Incident Phil
1993 Little Miss Millions Agent Noah Hollander
1995 The Brady Bunch Movie Mr. Steve Yeager
1997 Spirit Lost Dr. Glidden
199812 BucksSlow
1998 The Prince of Egypt [13] Additional CharactersVoice
1999 Out in Fifty Cappy
1999After Romeo
2000 Dancing in September Mr. Warner
2001HoneybeeLarry Dukes
2001 Dr. Dolittle 2 Eldon
2001Chasing SunsetsMr. Burken
2004 Raise Your Voice Mr. Gantry
2004 Hair Show Seymour Gold
2005 Lethal Eviction Gus Winter
2005The Third WishGeorge
2005WheelmenVice President
2005A Christmas WishSaintShort
2006Restraining OrderJudge Sanderson
2006 Think Tank Uncle John
2006 Danika Teddy Johnson
2007 Who's Your Caddy? Caddy Mack
2007Divine InterventionRev. Matthews
2008His Good WillMr. CooperShort
2008Leave with ItDr. LeonShort
2009 Steppin: The Movie The Chancellor
2010 Let the Game Begin Mark Hanley
2010The GrindModelo Snipes
2012 Valediction EdwardShort
2014 Wish I Was Here Audition actor #2Avery's last performance in a film


1983Antony and CleopatraMardianTV movie
1983 Tales of the Gold Monkey GabrielEpisode: "God Save the Queen"
1983 Newhart Construction GuyEpisode: "Heaven Knows Mr. Utley"
1983 The Jeffersons ColemanEpisode: "Father Christmas"
1983-1984 Simon & Simon Huey, Roy2 episodes
1984 Hill Street Blues Tolliver3 episodes
1984 Legmen No NeckEpisode: "I Shall Be Re-Released"
1984 Hardcastle and McCormick Episode: "Scared Stiff"
1984 Going Bananas Hank
1984 Webster JudgeEpisode: "Webster Long" (2)
1984 Fist of the North Star FangVoice
1984 The Dukes of Hazzard CharlieEpisode: "Cool Hands, Luke & Bo"
1984-1985 Brothers Bubba Dean2 episodes
1985 Street Hawk Councilman WatersPilot
1985 St. Elsewhere Mental PatientEpisode: "Give the Boy a Hand"
1985 Cagney & Lacey Episode: "Who Says It's Fair" (1)
1985KicksStanleyTV movie
1985 Space Jean-Marie CBS miniseries
1985 Scarecrow and Mrs. King NabutiEpisode: "Murder Between Friends"
1985 Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling Junkyard Dog Voice
1985 George Burns Comedy Week Episode: "The Assignment"
1985 The A-Team Episode: "The Heart of Rock n' Roll"
1985 Moonlighting Reuben KingEpisode: "Twas the Episode Before Christmas"
1986 Karate Kommandos Additional voices
1986 Amazing Stories Chief HansenEpisode: "Hell Toupee"
1986 Rambo and the Forces of Freedom TurboVoice
1986Samaritan: The Mitch Snyder MovieHank DudneyTV movie
1986CondorCasTV movie
1986 Sunday Drive OliverTV movie
1986-1989 The Real Ghostbusters Killerwatt / JudgeVoice, 3 episodes
1986-1989 Amen Arnie Samples / Rev. Crawford5 episodes
1987Jake's M.O.Abel BarnesUnsold pilot / TV movie
1987 Timestalkers BlacksmithTV movie
1987 Jake and the Fatman Episode: "Fatal Attraction"
1987-1989 Valerie Judge N. Keller / Mr. Erdman2 episodes
1987−1993 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shredder Voice, 103 episodes
1988 Dallas Judge FowlerEpisode: "Malice in Dallas"
1988 Beauty and the Beast Winslow
1988 227 Jo-JoEpisode: "My Aching Back"
1988Heart and SoulHarlan SinclairPilot
1988-1992 L.A. Law Judge Michael Conover9 episodes
1989Full Exposure: The Sex Tapes ScandalEarlTV movie
1989 Roe vs. Wade TV movie
1989 FM Quentin LamoreauxTV Series
1989 A Different World The Pin PunisherEpisode: "To Have and Have Not"
1989Turn Back the ClockPhysical TherapistTV movie
1990 Night Court Judge HopkinsEpisode: "Wedding Bell Blues" (1)
1990 Capital News Pilot
1990To My DaughterTV movie
1990-1996 The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Philip Banks 148 episodes
1991Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shredder Voice, TV movie
1991 The Legend of Prince Valiant Sir Bryant Voice, 9 episodes
1992 Roc Dale HammersEpisode: "The Car Accident from Heaven"
1993Without Warning: Terror in the TowersFred FerbyTV movie
1993-1994 American Experience Charles Hamilton Houston / Narrator2 episodes
1994Hart to Hart: Old Friends Never DieChess PlayerTV movie
1994 A Friend to Die For Agent GilwoodTV movie
1994 Aladdin Haroud Hazi BinVoice, 9 episodes
1994-1995 Iron Man [13] War Machine Voice, 7 episodes
1995 ABC Weekend Special HeadmanVoice, Episode: "Jirimpimbira – An African Folk Tale"
1995 Murder One Judge Nathaniel AlexanderEpisode: "Chapter Five"
1996 Gargoyles The ShamanVoice, Episode: "Walk About"
1996 Captain Simian & the Space Monkeys [13] Gor-illa/Gor Voice, 26 episodes
1996 Spider-Man War Machine Voice, 2 episodes
1996-1998 Sparks Alonzo Sparks40 episodes
1996-1998 In the House Mediator / Sampson Stanton2 episodes
1997 Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child FatherVoice, Episode: "The Golden Goose"
1997 Extreme Ghostbusters DannyVoice, Episode: "Dry Spell"
1998The Advanced GuardFredTV movie
1998 You Lucky Dog Calvin BridgesTV movie
1998 The Wild Thornberrys [13] GorillaVoice, Episode: "Valley Girls"
1999 Vengeance Unlimited Judge Christopher WashingtonEpisode: "Legalese"
1999King's PawnCecilPilot
1999 Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? Malcolm Avalon2 episodes
1999 For Your Love Rev. HicksEpisode: "Mother Load"
1999 Family Law Episode: "Damages"
1999-2000 Pepper Ann Mr. Clapper3 episodes
2000 Bull Prof. Gilbert GranvilleEpisode: "What the Past Will Bring"
2000 One World William RichardEpisode: "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner"
2000 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Preston CashEpisode: "Unfriendly Skies"
2000 Two Guys and a Girl JudgeEpisode: "Rescue Me"
2000-2002 Dharma & Greg Walter2 episodes
2001 Epoch Dr. Solomon HoltTV movie
2001 The Jamie Foxx Show ReverendEpisode: "Always and Forever"
2001 Strong Medicine Harold JenkinsEpisode: "Wednesday Night Fever"
2001 The Legend of Tarzan Chief Keewazi Voice, 3 episodes
2001 The Proud Family Crandall SmytheVoice, Episode: "Spelling Bee"
2001-2002 The Nightmare Room R.L. Stine 12 episodes
2001−2003 Soul Food Walter Carter4 episodes
2002 Philly Dean Mark ClivnerEpisode: "Here Comes the Judge"
2002 Judging Amy Mr. RuffEpisode: "Damage Control"
2002 Nancy Drew Prof. ShifflinTV movie
2002-2003 The Division Charles Haysbert9 episodes
2003 Reba Judge Samuel BennettEpisode: "The Feud"
2003 Crossing Jordan Dr. ErkhartEpisode: "Conspiracy"
2003 Street Smarts ContestantEpisode: "May 16, 2003"
2003 All About the Andersons RoscoeEpisode: "Flo's Dream"
2003-2004 All of Us Lucas2 episodes
2004 That '70s Show Officer Kennedy3 episodes
2004 Charmed ZolaEpisode: "A Call to Arms"
2004 NYPD Blue Steve PinesEpisode: "Great Balls or Ire"
2004 Girlfriends Dr. CouchEpisode: "Maybe Baby"
2004 That's So Raven Presto JonesEpisode: "Opportunity Shocks"
2005-2007 The Closer Dr. Crippen 11 episodes
2005 My Wife and Kids Professor TillmanEpisode: "Study Buddy"
2005 Star Trek: Enterprise General K'Vagh2 episodes
2005 Living With Fran Mr. BryantEpisode: "Learning with Fran"
2006Take 3Judge SandersonEpisode: "Study Buddy"
2008 Eli Stone Mason AndrewsEpisode: "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go"
2009 Sherri Redmond4 episodes
2011 The Problem Solverz Go-Seeki Ninja Master / Ninja Master HeadVoice, Episode: "Hide and Seek Ninjaz"
2012 Grey's Anatomy SamEpisode: "One Step Too Far"
2012 The Young and the Restless Judge Roy Daley2 episodes
2013 Call Me Crazy: A Five Film Dr. BeckettTV movie, segment: "Eddie"
2013Hunt for the Labyrinth KillerJudge ParsonsTV movie
2013Go, Bolivia, Go!Commissioner MoroccoTV Movie
2015 Da Jammies CovingtonVoice, Episode: "Cello"
Posthomous release

Video games

1989Splash MountainBr'er Frog
1995 Disney's Animated Storybook: The Lion King [13] Narrator
2006 Biker Mice from Mars Cataclysm / Cat Commando
2011 Kinect Disneyland Adventures Br'er Bear

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  6. "James Avery" . Retrieved January 18, 2016.
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  11. "James Avery Dead". If You Blinked. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
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  13. 1 2 3 4 5 6 https://www.behindthevoiceactors.com/James-Avery/