James L. Avery

Actor, Voice actor
Burly African-American character player of TV with a richly resonant voice. Avery has been a familiar face since the mid-1980s as a frequent TV guest star usually playing a cop, judge or clergyman. He had recurring ... Read more »
Born: 11/26/1948 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA

Filmography

Actor (108)

Wheelmen 2015 (Movie)

The Vice President (Actor)

After Romeo 2014 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Third Wish 2014 (Movie)

(Actor)

Wish I Was Here 2014 (Movie)

Audition Actor #2 (Actor)

The Hunt for the Labyrinth Killer 2012 - 2013 (TV Show)

Actor

Grey's Anatomy 2012 (Tv Show)

Actor

Stars In Shorts 2012 (Movie)

(Not Your Time) (Actor)

Sherri 2009 (Tv Show)

Actor

Eli Stone 2008 (Tv Show)

Actor

Divine Intervention 2007 (Movie)

Rev. Matthews (Actor)

The Closer 2005 - 2007 (Tv Show)

Actor

Who's Your Caddy? 2007 (Movie)

Caddy Mack (Actor)

Enterprise 2005 (Tv Show)

Actor

Living with Fran 2005 (Tv Show)

Actor

My Wife and Kids 2005 (Tv Show)

Actor

All of Us 2003 - 2004 (Tv Show)

Actor

Charmed 2004 (Tv Show)

Actor

Girlfriends 2004 (Tv Show)

Actor

Hair Show 2004 (Movie)

Seymour Gold (Actor)

NYPD Blue 2004 (Tv Show)

Actor

Raise Your Voice 2004 (Movie)

Mr. Gantry (Actor)

That '70s Show 2004 (Tv Show)

Actor

That's So Raven 2004 (Tv Show)

Actor

All About the Andersons 2003 (Tv Show)

Actor

Crossing Jordan 2003 (Tv Show)

Actor

Nancy Drew 2002 - 2003 (TV Show)

Actor

Reba 2003 (Tv Show)

Actor

Soul Food 2001 - 2003 (Tv Show)

Actor

The Division 1997 - 2003 (Tv Show)

Actor

10th Annual Trumpet Awards 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)

Actor

Epoch 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)

Actor

Judging Amy 2002 (Tv Show)

Actor

Philly 2002 (Tv Show)

Actor

The Test 2000 - 2002 (TV Show)

Actor

A Different World 1989 - 1992, 1995 - 2001 (Tv Show)

Actor

Dancing in September 2001 (Movie)

Mr Warner (Actor)

Dharma & Greg 1991 - 1992, 1995 - 2001 (Tv Show)

Actor

Dr. Dolittle 2 2001 (Movie)

Eldon (Actor)

Family Law 1989 - 1992, 1995 - 2001 (Tv Show)

Actor

For Your Love 1991 - 1992, 1997 - 2001 (Tv Show)

Actor

In the House 1991 - 1992, 1995 - 2001 (Tv Show)

Actor

L.A. Law 1988 - 1992, 1995 - 2001 (Tv Show)

Actor

Murder One 1988 - 1992, 1995 - 2001 (Tv Show)

Actor

Roc 1991 - 1992, 1997 - 2001 (Tv Show)

Actor

Strong Medicine 2001 (Tv Show)

Actor

The Jamie Foxx Show 1991 - 1992, 1997 - 2001 (Tv Show)

Actor

Two Guys and a Girl 1991 - 1992, 1997 - 2001 (Tv Show)

Actor

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation 2000 (Tv Show)

Actor

Going Places 1997 - 2000 (Tv Show)

Actor

Honeybee 2000 (Movie)

(Actor)

Captain Simian & the Space Monkeys 1997 - 1999 (TV Show)

Voice

Storytime 1993 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

Vengeance Unlimited 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

Quincy Jones -- The First 50 Years 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

Seeing Through Walls 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

The Advanced Guard 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

The Prince of Egypt 1998 (Movie)

Additional Voice (Actor)

12 Bucks 1997 (Movie)

(Actor)

Aladdin 1994 - 1997 (TV Show)

Voice

Duckman 1993 - 1997 (TV Show)

Actor

Sparks 1995 - 1997 (TV Show)

Actor

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987 - 1997 (TV Show)

Voice

It's Hot in Here: UPN Fall Preview 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

Spirit Lost 1996 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air 1990 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

A Friend to Die For 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

Here Comes the Bride... There Goes the Groom 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

Jirimpimbira: An African Folk Tale 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Voice

Midnight Ramble 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Narrator

The Brady Bunch Movie 1995 (Movie)

Mr Yeager (Actor)

The Legend of Prince Valiant 1991 - 1995 (TV Show)

Voice

The 9th Annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)

Actor

Simple Justice 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time 1991 (Movie)

Captain Coberly (Actor)

Planet of the Turtleoids 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Voice

Shout 1991 (Movie)

of Midnight Rider (Voice)

FM 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

Full Exposure: The Sex Tapes Scandal 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

San Berdoo 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

Body Count 1988 (Movie)

(Actor)

Dakota's Way 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Actor

Heart and Soul 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Actor

License to Drive 1988 (Movie)

Mr Kelly (Actor)

Jake's M.O. 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

Nightflyers 1987 (Movie)

Darryl Fontaine (Actor)

Three For the Road 1987 (Movie)

Clarence (Actor)

Condor 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

Rambo 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Voice

Scooby's Mystery Funhouse 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Voice

Fletch 1985 (Movie)

Detective #2 (Actor)

Going Bananas 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

James A. Michener's "Space" 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

Kicks 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

The Stunt Man 1979 (Movie)

Pinball Heckler (Actor)

Gargoyles (TV Show)

Voice

One World (TV Show)

Actor

Roe vs. Wade (TV Show)

Actor

Sunday Drive (TV Show)

Actor

The Colony (TV Show)

Actor

Timestalkers (TV Show)

Actor

To My Daughter (TV Show)

Actor

You Lucky Dog (TV Show)

Actor

Biography

Burly African-American character player of TV with a richly resonant voice. Avery has been a familiar face since the mid-1980s as a frequent TV guest star usually playing a cop, judge or clergyman. He had recurring roles on shows as diverse as "L.A. Law", "Beauty and the Beast", and "Amen". Avery is best known as Phillip Banks, the uncle of Will Smith on the hit sitcom "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" (NBC, 1990-96). His character was a proud self-made success story who skillfully walks the delicate line between being a positive role model as a strong Black father figure and the butt of humor as a pompous windbag. After the show's demise, Avery once again portrayed a patriarch, this time as the father in a family of lawyers who served an inner-city community on the UPN sitcom "Sparks" (1996-98). Avery honed his acting skills as part of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland before segueing to commercials and TV. He worked on several cartoons ("Going Bananas"; "Hulk Hogan's Rock'N'Wrestling"; "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles") before landing a stint as a primetime series regular on the sitcom "FM". Even here his voice was an integral part of his role as he played a radio personality who hosted two shows--one as a polished classical host and the other as a funky reggae deejay. Avery has also had small roles in several features beginning with "The Stunt Man" (1980) and continuing with films including "Three for the Road" (1987) and "License to Drive" (1988). He worked steadily as a character actor in both film and television after the end of "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air," including a recurring role as a doctor in the police procedural "The Closer" (TNT 2005-2012). James L. Avery died of complications from open-heart surgery on December 31, 2013, shortly after completing work on Zach Braff's feature "Wish I Was Here" (2014).

Relationships

Barbara Avery

Wife
born c. 1954 married c. 1989 worked at Loyola Marymount University

EDUCATION

University of California at San Diego

San Diego , California
attended on scholarship

Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts

attended on fellowship

University of California at San Diego

San Diego , California
attended on scholarship

Milestones

1998

Hosted the PBS series "Going Places"

1994

Did narration for "Midnight Ramble", a documentary special on PBS's "The American Experience" about the African-American independent film movement between 1910 and 1940

1991

Provided the voice of Midnight Rider for the failed John Travolta rock'n'roll vehicle, "Shout"

1991

Reprised the role of Shredder for the animated special, "Planet of the Turtleoids"

1988

Played a recurring role on the CBS fantasy romance series, "Beauty and the Beast"

1987

Returned to features for his second screen credit, "Three for the Road"

1986

Provided a voice for the animated "Rambo" series

1985

TV-movie debut, "Kicks"

1985

TV miniseries debut, "James A. Michener's 'Space'"

1984

TV series debut, a voice on the animated children's series "Going Bananas"

1980

Feature debut, "The Stunt Man"

1968

Served in Vietnam

Moved to Oregon; worked with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland

Attended high school in his native Atlantic City, New Jersey

Starred as patriarch of a family of lawyers on the UPN sitcom "Sparks"

Provided a voice for "Scooby's Mystery Funhouse"

Moved to L.A.

Voiced the villainous Shredder on the popular syndicated cartoon series "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"

Debut as a live-action TV series regular, "FM", an NBC sitcom in which he played the role of Quentin Lamoreaux

Tried out for a school play on the suggestion of an English teacher

After graduating from college, awarded a fellowship to study in London

Settled in San Diego

Wrote poetry and TV scripts for public TV

Played a recurring role on the NBC drama series, "L.A. Law"

Provided the voice of Junkyard Dog for "Hulk Hogan's Rock'N' Wrestling" cartoon series

Played the recurring role of Reverend Crawford on the NBC sitcom, "Amen"

Enlisted in the Navy upon graduation

Awarded scholarship to the University of California at San Diego, where he intended to study philosophy and English literature

Cast as Phillip Banks, a regular on the popular NBC sitcom, "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"

Bonus Trivia

.

"'He's a hard-working, goal-oriented person who came from humble roots into excellence and accomplishment,' says James Avery of Philip Banks, the successful Harvard-educated attorney he portrays. 'And while he knows a lot of things in life are unfair, he also believes that with enough hard work and clear focus one can achieve anything.'"Avery says his television character resembles his own personality. 'I come from poor roots and used to say to my mother how unfair it was that blacks need to be 10 times better than everyone elso to make it. She would say, 'Stop whining and be 10 times better.' That's Phillip's outlook as well.'" --From James Avery's "NBC Biography"

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