Jada Pinkett Smith Mourns Death of Will Smith's Fresh Prince Costar James Avery

Celebrity News Jan. 2, 2014 AT 1:20PM
Jada Pinkett Smith and James Avery Jada Pinkett Smith posted a message on Wednesday, Jan. 1 to mourn the passing of James Avery, husband Will Smith's Fresh Prince of Bel-Air costar. Credit: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic; NBCU Photo Bank

Jada Pinkett Smith is in mourning. Will Smith's wife, 42, took to her Facebook page on Wednesday, Jan. 1 to mourn the passing of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air alum James Avery, who died at the age of 65 on Tuesday.

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"Happy New Year everyone!" the Hawthorne actress wrote. "I was hoping to start the new year differently but we have lost yet another friend. James Avery who we all lovingly know as Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince has passed," she shared with fans.

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Avery starred as the Honorable Philip Banks, the rigid but loving patriarch of the Banks family who would frequently chide Smith's fresh, goofy character on the popular NBC show, which ran from 1990 to 1996. He later appeared on Grey's Anatomy and, most recently, cable TV show The Closer, while his booming voice was heard on multiple animated shows like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

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Alfonso Ribeiro, who also starred on Fresh Prince as Banks' son Carlton, shared on Twitter Wednesday, "I'm deeply saddened to say that James Avery has passed away. He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly."

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His publicist told the Associated Press that Avery died from complications from open heart surgery. TMZ reported that the actor's wife, Barbara Avery, was at the hospital during the actor's death. "Our condolences to aunt Florence (his mother), Miss Barbara (his wife) and all those who loved him," wrote Pinkett Smith in her Facebook message. "Rest in peace James."

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