James Avery (November 27, 1945 – December 31, 2013)

James LaRue Avery was born in
Pughsville, Hampton Roads, Virginia and raised in Atlantic City, New Jersey. After high school graduation, Avery served in the Vietnam War in the Navy from 1968
to 1969.

He returned home and moved to San Diego where he began writing poetry and TV scripts. His acting career began in 1980 with an uncredited role as a Man Dancing in the film The Blues Brothers. His first credited role was in 1985 in the film Fletch as Detective #2. In 1990, Avery landed the role of Philip Banks on a little show called The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, starring Will Smith and — just like that — Avery landed a special role in all our lives.

Over the span of his career, Avery appeared in 49 films, his final to be Wish I Was Here, an American comedy-drama directed by Zach Braff. Avery also appeared or voiced for 111 TV shows or movies. His final TV appearance was as Dr. Beckett in Call Me Crazy: a Five Film.

Avery married Barbara Avery in 1988. The couple had no children together, but Avery was the stepfather to Barbara’s son Kevin Waters.

On New Year’s Eve 2013, Avery died from complications following open heart surgery in Glendale, California. He is survived by his wife, stepson and mother, Florence Avery.