James Avery was a prolific and versatile actor during his 68 years, but he's best known to several as Uncle Phil.
A classically trained thespian, Avery filled the role of the tough but caring head of the Banks' household on the '90s sitcom "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" for six years. Along the way, he crafted a character that stands apart as one of the greatest fictional dads on TV.
His costar Joseph Marcell, who portrayed the family butler Geoffrey, had it right when he said that Avery "strove to present an Uncle Phil that everybody wishes was their uncle." As a result, his death this week has left a lot of fans feeling as though they've lost a family member.
Every "Fresh Prince" fan probably has his or her own reasons why Uncle Phil was at the heart of the memorable comedy. Here are our top five (actually four):
Most of the humor came from that dynamic, but when Will -- and, often, Phil's son Carlton (Alfonso Ribeiro) -- really needed him, he didn't hesitate to help them out. That was established clearly with an episode in season one, when Phil came to Will's rescue at a pool hall after the kid lost money and a car to a hustler.
This was shown in one heartbreaking season four episode, when Will's biological father re-enters the picture only to leave his son once again. A distraught Will turned to his uncle, who readily embraced him. No matter how many times we watch this, we always get misty.
Or how he completely shut down this guy's attempt to smoke in an elevator ... and then took his phone:
And how could we forget his confrontation at a police station in season one?
5th at Source
forever too many emotions for number 2.