The start of the New Year sadly brought us the news that actor James Avery (known to the world as Uncle Phil from Fresh Prince) has passed away.

The 65-year-old star died in hospital in Los Angeles, California, on Tuesday from complications following open heart surgery.

The star played the role of Will Smith's uncle in the hit 90's TV show, and the strict steady of voice reason to Will's wild ways making them an hilarious comedy duo on screen. The actor also featured in shows LA Law, The A Team and terrified us all as the voice of Shredder, the arch-enemy of the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles.

James’ character was ranked #34 in TV Guide’s “50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time" but we think he was undoubtedly TV's greatest uncle.

While Will Smith has yet to comment publicly on the death, it has been said that he was ringing in the New Year with his family when an associate told him the news.

“Working with James was a big part of his life.. in fact, James was something of a father figure to Will' a source said.
“He’s devastated by the death.. James will be sorely missed.'