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James LaRue Avery (November 27, 1945 – December 31, 2013) was an American actor, voice actor, and poet. He was best known for his roles as Philip Banks in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Shredder in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Steve Yeager in The Brady Bunch Movie, and Haroud Hazi Bin in Aladdin.


Avery began his career in the 1980s with appearances in television series such as NBC's Hill Street Blues, Showtime sitcom Brothers as Bubba Dean, Amen, FM and L.A. Law. In the 1990s, he achieved prominence for his role as Philip Banks (Uncle Phil) in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, a character that was ranked #34 in TV Guide's "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time." After The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air ended, he played the lead role of Alonzo Sparks in the UPN comedy series Sparks that lasted for two seasons. Other notable roles in television included Dr. Crippen in The Closer, Charles Haysbert in The Division, and Michael Kelso's commanding officer at the police academy late in the series run of That '70s Show.

Among his most notable voice credits are the voices of Shredder in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series, and James Rhodes/War Machine in the 1990s Iron Man series. He also provided the voice of Junkyard Dog in Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling, Turbo in Rambo and the Forces of Freedom, and Haroud Hazi Bin in Aladdin.

Avery was the commencement speaker for his alma mater, UC San Diego's Thurgood Marshall College in 2007, and again in 2012. In 1995 he appeared in The Brady Bunch Movie.

On December 31, 2013, Avery died at the age of 68 from complications following open heart surgery at Glendale Memorial Medical Center.


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