Only two days into the new year, and we’ve lost two prolific black actors. James Avery, who people know as Uncle Phil from “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air”, as well as the voice of Shredder from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” passed away yesterday at the age of 68.
TMZ reported that the actor died suddenly in an Los Angeles hospital on New Year’s Eve from complications following open heart surgery.
Avery, who also suffered from diabetes, had recently undergone surgery for an undisclosed illness and took a turn for the worse late on Tuesday. Avery’s mother, Florence, told the New York Daily News: “It breaks my heart. My child was a great person who helped anyone he could. He was really just a nice person whose great passion in life was reading.”
Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Carlton on the show, 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.”
The entertainment world is also mourning the death of Juanita Moore. Moore was a groundbreaking actress, most known for her role in the 1959 remake of, “Imitation of Life”, which garnered her an Academy Award nomination. Moore collapsed and died Wednesday in her Los Angeles home. According to her grandson, she was 99.
“The Oscar prestige was fine, but I worked more before I was nominated,” Moore told the Los Angeles Times in 1967. “Casting directors think an Oscar nominee is suddenly in another category. They couldn’t possibly ask you to do one or two days’ work. You wouldn’t accept it. And I’m sure I would.”
Moore also had an active career in the theater, starting at Los Angeles’ Ebony Showcase Theatre in the early 1950s, a leading black-run theater. She also was a member of the celebrated Cambridge Players, with other performers including Esther Rolle and Helen Martin. Among Moore’s other films were “The Girl Can’t Help It,” ”The Singing Nun,” ”Paternity” and “The Kid.” Her TV credits include “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour,” ”Adam-12,” ”Judging Amy” and “ER.”