James Avery, beloved “Fresh Prince of Bel-air” actor, died yesterday at age 65. The star passed away during complications in an open heart surgery, leaving behind a wife, a step-son and his mother grieving his loss. Below is a tribute to James Avery and the highlights of his career, including his very first role in script-writing, film, television, voice-overs, his most famous role to date and the last of his work.
The actor was born in Virginia, but moved to Atlantic City with his family at a young age. Avery went on to fight in the Vietnam War after high school, and returned to the United States a year later to write spoken word and poetry. He moved on to acting after he began writing scripts for the television network PBS.
Here are the top five highlights in the career of the late James Avery:
1. Ameda Speaks: Poet James Avery
The actor wrote this production and won an Emmy for it’s astounding success. It was written during his time working for PBS, before he began his acting career. It was among the many scripts that he had written at this time, but this piece is the most renowned.
2. The Blues Brothers
Year of release: 1980
This was the first uncredited role that James Avery played when he set out to be an actor. This film is a musical comedy about Jake Blues, who has just come out of prison, and his brother Elwood Blues. They put together a band in order to save their Catholic childhood home.
3. Tales of the Gold Monkey
Year of release: 1982
The first television debut role that James Avery played was in the show “Tales of the Gold Monkey” in 1983, a 60-minute television drama. He played Gabriel in the Episode “God Save the Queen,” in which a boat carrying the Duke of Windsor is hijacked with priceless jewels on board the ship.
4. Fist of the North Star
Year of Release: 1986
The first voice-over animated production James Avery played a role in was “First of the North Star.” This was a film based on a graphic novel written by Susumu Takaku, which takes place after an apocalypse and centers around one man who must reverse the violent upheaval and destruction. Avery voiced the character Boss Fang.
5. The Fresh Prince of Bel-air
Year of Release: 1990
James Avery’s role of Uncle Phil in this extremely popular television series is perhaps what brought about his rise to fame. He played the patriarch of a well-off family in Bel-air. Avery’s character was listed in TV Guide’s “50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time.” The character was among the favorited personalities on the show, and was also one of the highest paid, falling just behind Will Smith and Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Will and Carlton on the show (respectively).
6. Final Work
Year of Release: 2014
James Avery was actively working in film and television until September 2013. He shot his final film with actor and director Zach Braff titled “Wish I was Here,” which is a comedy funded by Kickstarter. The film will be shown at the Sundance festival in Utah later this month.
By: Hend Salah