Amidst the plethora of ’90s-era sitcom dads, “The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air”’s Uncle Phil was my favorite. This no nonsense uncle was educated, wise, and delivered punishments with a sense of humor. With a household of children varying in age and personality type, he never played favorites and was fiercely protective of each and every kid. To Will, Phil may have been “Uncle,” but to Uncle Phil, Will was a son.
Coming from a home without a father, this was very important to me, the idea that one’s father figure did not have to be their actual dad. In fact, he could be your uncle. I may not have had a father to take me to father-daughter dances, but I had an “Uncle Phil” who walked me down the aisle.
James Avery delivered Philip Banks to us as a man with a loud bark and a large smile. We laughed as Philip would lose his temper and listen intently when we he delivered a lesson. I will never forget season one’s “Mistaken Identity” episode, when fiercely protective Philip is forced to explain to Will and Carlton the reality of racial profiling. James Avery played Philip Banks so well; it is hard to differentiate the man from the character.
James Avery died on Tuesday at the age of 68, following complications from surgery. Our condolences go to his family for their loss. [Washington Post]