StarTrek.com is saddened to report the passing of James Avery, who died on Tuesday, December 31, 2013. The actor, who was 68 -- an age confirmed by his publicist (some accounts have said he was 65) -- suffered complications after heart surgery in November. Millions of television viewers will remember Avery -- who was also a poet and a Vietnam War veteran -- as the deep-voiced, tough-but-loving Uncle Phil from the long-running 1990s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, on which he co-starred with Will Smith and Alfonso Ribiero. However, Avery made two appearances on Star Trek and came close to making many, many more. He portrayed K'Vagh, a general in the Klingon Defense Forces, in the Enterprise episodes "Affliction" and "Divergence." But, many years earlier, he was among the finalists for the role of Worf on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
The actor's other TV and film credits included Grey's Anatomy, The Closer, Soul Food, Amen, L.A. Law, Fletch, Nightflyers and 8 Million Ways to Die. His voice was heard in numerous animated projects, including the TV series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, for which he originated the voice of Shredder, Gargoyles and Iron Man. Shortly before his death, he completed production on the Zach Braff-directed feature Wish I Was Here, which will debut later this month at the Sundance Film Festival.
Avery, who was born in Virginia and raised in New Jersey, is survived by Barbara Avery, his wife of 26 years, as well as his mother, Florence Avery, and stepson, Kevin Waters. StarTrek.com offers our condolences to Avery's family, friends and many fans.