James Avery, the genial actor who played the father on “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” has died at age 65. The cause, reports TMZ and other outlets, was complications from open heart surgery. He played Philip Banks, the wealthy uncle of Will Smith, on the hit show, for seven seasons from 1990 to 1996. After that Avery never stopped working on TV. He was about as continuous of a presence as he could be. I met him several times at various events and he was just the nicest guy, very articulate and funny. Alfonso Ribero, who played his son on “Fresh Prince,” has already posted something on Facebook. I’m sure we’ll be hearing from the whole cast soon. RIP.
PS Avery’s death comes one week after the unexpected death of “Fresh Prince” producer and co-creator Jeffrey Pollack at age 54.

Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. He wrote the Intelligencer column for NY Magazine in the mid 90s, reporting on the OJ Simpson trial, as well as for the real Parade magazine (when it was owned by Conde Nast), and has written for the New York Observer, Details, Vogue, Spin, the New York Times, NY Post, Washington Post, and NY Daily News among many publications. He is the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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