James Avery, Uncle Phil on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, dead at 65 James Avery, the character actor who laid down the law as the Philip Banks in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, has died. Avery's publicist, Cynthia Snyder, told The Associated Press that Avery died Tuesday in Glendale, Calif., following complications from open heart surgery. He was 65. Avery played Will Smith's uncle on the popular TV series. His movie credits included Fletch, The Prince of Egypt and 8 Million Ways to Die. "I'm deeply saddened to say that James Avery has passed away," tweeted actor Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Carlton on Fresh Prince. "He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly."