James Avery, best known for his role as Uncle Phil on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, died on New Year's Eve at age 68 after weeks of complications from open heart surgery. Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was a beloved '90s sitcom that starred Will Smith, a teenager who was sent from Philadelphia to live with his wealthy aunt and uncle in their mansion in Bel Air. James Avery played Smith's uncle who had to put up with his all his antics and was something of a surrogate father to him, teaching him life lessons and guiding him into adulthood. Avery's character was even ranked No. 34 on TV Guide's "50 Greatest TV Dads of All."
After news of Avery's death broke, a fake Twitter account claiming to be Will Smith's with the username @freshprincewill wrote, "I was thinking that we get the cast together and film one more Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air episode in honour of Uncle Phil." and "R.I.P. Uncle Phil. All you real Fresh Prince of Bel-Air fans out there... DON'T STOP #RETWEETING THIS."
Some people realized these tweets were coming from a fake account, but others were completely offended that Smith would have such an inappropriate and insensitive reaction to the death of a longtime friend and former castmate. It turns out that Will Smith does not have an official Twitter account, so the tweets definitely did not come from him.
Alfonso Ribeiro, also known as Carlton Banks on Fresh Prince, does have an official Twitter account. Following the announcement that his TV dad had died, he tweeted, "I'm deeply saddened to say that James Avery has passed away. He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly," along with a photo of Avery and his wife.
Following Fresh Prince, Will Smith went on to become a major movie star and is in fact one of the only movie stars to ever have eight movies in a row gross over $100 million. And how could we forget that he also had a lucrative music career starting out with hits like "Parents Just Don't Understand" with DJ Jazzy Jeff?
The duo went on to make five albums together before Smith broke out on his own and made four albums, the last one released in 2005 featuring the song "Switch." It seems like Smith hasn't pursued much in the way of music recently, opting out of performing the song for Men In Black 3, which Pitbull took over instead.
These days he seems very focused on his movie career, though one of his most recent movies that he starred in alongside his son Jayden, After Earth, was unfortunately a flop, and critics complained that it had Scientologist undertones. Smith and his family are reportedly members of the church of Scientology.
Alfonso Ribeiro got his start on Broadway before dancing in commercials with Michael Jackson and then eventually landed a spot on Fresh Prince as the overachieving, lovably nerdy young man who would always dance enthusiastically to Tom Jones' "It's Not Unusual," a dance that became famous as "The Carlton Dance." After Fresh Prince, Ribeiro hosted Catch 21 on GSN and went behind the camera to direct episodes of Meet the Browns and Are We There Yet. Later he hosted another gameshow on ABC Family called Spell-Maggedon and competed in the thirteenth season of Britain's I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here.
Smith and Ribeiro have come a long way since their Fresh Prince days, and even though their TV dad has passed away, Fresh Prince will keep his legacy alive for years to come.
Watch a video below of James Avery, Will Smith, and Alfonso Ribeiro in action on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air below.
What was your favorite episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? Tell us in the comments section below.