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James Avery dies: Cast of Fresh Prince of Bel Air pay tribute to late actor, except Will Smith

Will Smith, the star of the hit 90s sitcom,  is yet to vocalise his condolences, leaving it up to wife Jada Pinkett-Smith to make a public statement

Alfonso Ribeiro and Tatyana Ali have paid public tribute to their on-screen father, James ‘Uncle Phil’ Avery.

But the star of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Will Smith, is yet to vocalise his condolences, leaving it up to wife Jada Pinkett-Smith to make a public statement about the actor’s death following open heart surgery.

James Avery Passes Away Following Heart Surgery, Aged 65

Taking to her Facebook page last night, Pinkett Smith posted, perhaps on her husband’s behalf: "Happy New Year everyone! I was hoping to start the new year differently but we have lost yet another friend.

"James Avery who we all lovingly know as Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince has passed.

"Our condolences to aunt Florence (his mother), Miss Barbara (his wife) and all those who loved him. Rest in peace James."

The news was originally broken by Avery’s co-star – and son in the series - Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Carlton Banks.

Also taking to Facebook, Ribeiro wrote on his wall: “The world has lost a truly special man. I am very saddened to say that James Avery has passed.

"Even though he played my father on TV, he was a wonderful father figure to me in life. He will be deeply missed."

Tatyana Ali, who played James' on-screen daughter Ashley Banks, similarly paid tribute, this time taking to Twitter to write the following:

Avery's publicist, Cynthia Snyder, told the Associated Press that he died in Glendale, California, yesterday following complications from open heart surgery.

Avery grew up in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and served in the navy in Vietnam in the late 1960s. After returning to the States, he settled in California and studied drama and literature at the University of California at San Diego.

He is survived by his wife, Barbara, and stepson, Kevin Waters.

The news comes just a week after Fresh Prince of Bel Air producer Jeff Pollack was found dead aged 54.

The famed director, who was behind comedies such as Lost & Found, Booty Call  and drama Above The Rim, died suddenly last Monday morning in Hermosa Beach, California.

He was found in Greenbelt Park, which is a popular spot for jogging and outdoor activities in the area. He was wearing jogging clothes, lieutenant Tom Thompson of the Hermosa Beach Police Department confirmed.

Read more on that story here.