James Avery, Uncle Phil on Fresh Prince of Bel Air, dies at age 68

2:14 PM, Jan 1, 2014   |    comments
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James Avery arrives at the Palm Pre Launch Event to Benefit Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America held at Raleigh Studios on June 3, 2009 in Los Angeles, Calif. Avery died Dec. 31, 2013(Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

(WUSA9) -- TMZ reports that actor James Avery, known for playing Will Smith's uncle on The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air, has died.

James Avery, who played "Uncle Phil" on the show, was 68 years old. He had recently undergone open heart surgery, reports TMZ.

TMZ reports that Avery passed away on Tuesday night.

Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Carlton, Avery's son on the show, posted a message on his Facebook page:

"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."

Avery also appeared in the movies Fletch, The Prince of Egypt and 8 Million Ways to die.

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