James Avery was an American actor who lived from November 27, 1945, to December 31, 2013. He was most known for his appearances as Haroud Hazi Bin in Aladdin, Dr. Crippen in The Closer, Judge Michael Conover on L.A. Law, Shredder in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Philip Banks in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Steve Yeager in The Brady Bunch (2005–2007).
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Avery’s mother, Florence J. Avery, gave birth to him in Pughsville, Virginia. His father did not appear on his birth certificate since he denied paternity. James would later relocate to Atlantic City, New Jersey, thanks to Florence. In 1968 and 1969, he served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War.
Later, he relocated to San Diego, California, where he started to create poems and TV screenplays for PBS. During his time there, he earned an Emmy for production. After leaving, he received a scholarship to attend Thurgood Marshall College (formerly Third College) at the University of California, San Diego, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in theater and literature in 1976.
In the 1980s, Avery started his acting career by making cameos on TV shows like NBC’s Hill Street Blues, Showtime’s sitcom Brothers as Bubba Dean, Amen, FM, and L.A. Law. He rose to fame in the 1990s for playing Philip Banks in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, a part that earned him a spot on TV Guide‘s list of the “50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time.”
He starred as Alonzo Sparks in the UPN comedy series Sparks, which ran for two seasons after The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air concluded. Other significant television performances included Charles Haysbert in The Division, Dr. Crippen in The Closer, and Michael Kelso’s commanding officer at the police school toward the end of That ’70s Show.
His most well-known voice-acting roles were James Rhodes/War Machine in the 1990s Iron Man series and Shredder in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series. He also performed as Haroud Hazi Bin in Aladdin, Turbo in Rambo and the Forces of Freedom, and Junkyard Dog in Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling from 1985 to 1986. (1994).
In both 2007 and 2012, Avery delivered the commencement address at his alma mater, UC San Diego’s Thurgood Marshall College.
Avery wed Barbara, his girlfriend, in 1988. Barbara served as Loyola Marymount University’s dean of student life. Although he was a stepfather to Barbara’s son Kevin Waters, he had no biological children of his own.
Avery passed away at Glendale Memorial Medical Center on December 31, 2013, when he was 68 years old. Avery passed away due to complications after open heart surgery, according to his publicist Cynthia Snyder, who spoke to the Associated Press. “RIP James, all the world is a stage, and we are all only characters in this performance called LIFE,” Janet Hubert, who played his on-screen wife Vivian on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air for the first three seasons, said upon his passing.
Regarding Avery’s passing, Will Smith said: “Some of my greatest lessons in acting, living, and being a respectable human being came through James Avery. Every young man needs an Uncle Phil. Rest in peace.” James Avery was described as a “gentle giant” by Joseph Marcell (Geoffrey).
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Who Is Will Smith?
Will Smith, popularly known by his stage name The Fresh Prince, is an American actor, rapper, and producer. He was born on September 25, 1968. On the NBC sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, where he debuted, he played a fictionalized version of himself (1990–1996).
Will Smith, well known for his work in film, television, and music, has won numerous honors, including an Academy Award and four Grammy Awards. He is one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars as of 2021, with worldwide box office receipts for his films exceeding $9.3 billion.
Career in Music
Will Smith never stopped playing music; in fact, he made four solo albums, two of which achieved platinum status, while also working on his movies. Smith had many successful tracks, including “Men in Black” and “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It,” which helped him win back-to-back Grammy Awards for Best Rap Solo Performance. Additionally, in 1997, Smith issued Big Willie Style, his debut solo album, which featured the smash song “Gettin’ Jiggy wit It,” then two years later, Willennium.
Smith’s act, which was renowned for its broad crossover appeal, was occasionally referred to as “light rap” due to the absence of intense themes and lyrics in his songs. Producers of television eventually became aware of him thanks to platinum-certified songs and related videos.
Smith’s persona appeared in the 1990-starting television sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which was partially based on him. At the star’s request, it was canceled after six successful seasons on NBC. During its run, Smith received two Golden Globe Award nominations and worked as an executive producer for the show’s last season.
After finding success on television, Smith made the transition to the big screen with Where the Day Takes You (1992). His first prominent part was in the successful theater production of Six Degrees of Separation by John Guare (1993). But Bad Boys (1995), an action comedy-thriller, ended to be a pivotal film in his acting career.
Despite receiving mixed reviews, the film generated more than $100 million globally, demonstrating Smith’s star power. He starred in Independence Day, the top-grossing movie of 1996. His performance of the Grammy-winning title song for the science fiction comedy Men in Black, which had sequels in 2002 and 2012, made him a hit at the box office once more the following year.
After starring in the gripping thriller Enemy of the State (1998), Smith continued to show off his impressive range as an actor in roles as diverse as a mysterious golf caddy in The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000), Muhammad Ali in the biopic Ali (2001), for which he received an Academy Award nomination, a cop from the near future in I, Robot (2004), and a “date doctor” helping a romantically awkward man find love in Hitch (2005).
He acted in The Pursuit of Happyness the next year, and for his portrayal of a struggling single father, he received a second Oscar nomination for best actor. Smith played a scientist who might be the last person on Earth after an outbreak in the 2007 film I Am Legend. Smith played a superhero striving to change his unfavorable reputation in Hancock (2008), and in Seven Pounds (2008), he portrayed a man looking for forgiveness after killing seven people inadvertently in a vehicle accident.
Later, Smith and his son Jaden starred in the science fiction epic After Earth (2013), which was based on a concept he came up with. Smith played a con man in the thriller Focus in 2015 and a doctor in the movie Concussion which exposed the chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) pandemic among NFL players. He portrayed Deadshot, an assassin, in the Suicide Squad action movie, and a bereaved father in Collateral Beauty in 2016. He played a police officer in the Netflix action movie Bright the following year, which is set in Los Angeles where both people and supernatural creatures live. Smith then was cast as the genie in the family comedy Aladdin (2019).
In Gemini Man (2019), he played two roles: a retired assassin and his younger clone, the latter of which was a computer-generated image of Smith when he was in his 20s. The animated Spies in Disguise, in which Smith provided the voice of a spy who gets transformed into a pigeon, was one of Smith’s other 2019 credits.
After that, Smith starred in the 2020 sequel to his 1995 hit movie, Bad Boys for Life. Smith played King Richard’s title role in the movie about the father of tennis players Serena and Venus Williams in 2021. Smith won the best actor Oscar for his performance. His victory, meanwhile, was somewhat marred by a ceremony mishap. Smith took offense when comedian Chris Rock made a joke about his wife, the actress Jada Pinkett Smith (they wed in 1997) He entered the stage, slapped Rock, and then cursed at him. Later, Smith expressed regret to Rock.