Actor James Avery – who played Uncle Phil in the TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel Air – has died, aged 65.
The US celebrity news website TMZ said Avery had recently undergone surgery for an undisclosed illness and died in hospital in Los Angeles.
In addition to his role on the classic 1990s comedy show, in which he played Will Smith’s uncle, he also provided the voice of Shredder in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles television series.
News of his death was broken by fellow actor Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Avery’s son, Carlton Banks, in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
Ribeiro wrote on his Facebook page: “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.”
Fans took to Twitter to pay tribute to the Atlantic City-born actor, who they said brought “laughs” into the homes of many during his career.
Russell Simmons, business magnate and founder of hip hop label Def Jam, said: “RIP James Avery. You gave us some incredible memories. You will be missed greatly.”
Emmerdale actress Gemma Oaten added: “Gutted to hear James Avery has passed away. Part of my childhood has gone with him. Legend. Thoughts with his family. Too young.”
Avery featured in 148 episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and was ranked as TV Guide’s 34th best television series “Dad” of all-time.
He is survived by his wife, Barbara, dean at a Californian college, whom he married in 1988.