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Movie Mom

We mourn the loss of actor James Avery, who starred with Will Smith as Uncle Phil in Fresh Prince of Bel Air.  Avery was a Vietnam veteran who became a writer, actor, and voice talent. He was a great foil for Will Smith on “Fresh Prince,” with a commanding presence that suited his role as a lawyer and later a judge.  While he was often the straight man, his comic timing was subtle and if you watch closely you can see how much Smith learned from him over the years.

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Avery also provided voices for animated characters as wide-ranging as The Shredder in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and War Machine in “Iron Man.”  He hosted “Going Places,” a popular travel and adventure series on PBS.  He memorably played disabled characters, a legally-blind witness to a murder on CSI and a wheelchair-bound medical examiner on “The Closer.”

He died at age 68 from complications following open heart surgery.  His last film, aptly named “Valediction,” has been a festival favorite and I hope it will be available streaming or in theaters later this year.  May his memory be a blessing.

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