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James Avery, "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" Actor, Dead at 68

Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic(LOS ANGELES) --  James Avery, the actor who played Uncle Phil on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, has died, his publicist confirmed to ABC News.

The actor died in an L.A. hospital after undergoing open heart surgery, TMZ reported, though that has not been confirmed.

Born in Atlantic City in 1945, Avery served in the Vietnam War according to his ArtMakers biography. After returning home, he moved to San Diego, where he wrote poetry and TV scripts, including the Emmy Award-winning production, Ameda Speaks: Poet James Avery.

However, Avery perhaps was most beloved for his acting. In addition to his most famous role on the sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, he also lent his voice to several animated TV series, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Iron Man. He also appeared on the big screen in films including Dr. Dolittle 2 and License to Drive, and hosted the travel series Going Places on PBS.

"I'm deeply saddened to say that James Avery has passed away," his Fresh Prince co-star Alfonso Ribeiro tweeted. "He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly."

Avery is survived by his wife, Barbara.

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