—UPDATE— According to celebrity site TMZ, Avery had recently undergone open heart surgery and passed away from complications from the operation.

Upsetting news has reached us that Hollywood actor James Avery, best known for his starring role as ‘Uncle Phil’ in 90s TV sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, has passed away. Avery was 65 years old.

The announcement of Avery’s passing came from the star’s on-screen ‘Fresh Prince’ son, Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Carlton Banks in the long-running show.

The actor has long-since been involved within the movie and television industry; whilst notoriety came from his role as the loveable ‘Uncle Phil’ (aka Phillip Banks), Avery also lent his bellowing voice to many animated series, notably ‘Shredder’ from iconic children’s TV show Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles during the late 1980s/early 1990s.

Ribeiro also paid tribute to Avery on his official Facebook page, saying “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.” he wrote

‘Fresh Prince’ co-star Tatyana Ali, who played Will Smith’s cousin Ashley Banks in the long-running sitcom, tweeted “James was my teacher my protector & the most magnificent actor. We’re feeling his loss very deeply. He’ll always be apart of me #JamesAvery.”

Elsewhere, tributes poured in from other parts of the acting community, including Will Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith who paid tribute to Avery on her Facebook page. “Happy New Year everyone” she wrote, “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.”

Avery’s entry into the acting world followed two years of service in Vietnam for the US navy in the late 1960s.

Check out some of James Avery’s best bits from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, below: