If you watched TV in the 1990s, chances are you were sad to hear that James Avery — who portrayed The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s patriarch Phillip Banks — passed away this week at the age of 68. Fans and colleagues took to social media to share their sadness and their memories of the beloved actor. Much of the attention is focused on the strengths of his most memorable character. Read on to see why Uncle Phil was one of the best TV dads of all time, and what other classic TV characters he shares this venerable honor with.
1. Philip Banks, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990-1996)
When Will Smith’s life got flip-turned upside down, he never thought he’d find a family in Bel-Air. But his Uncle Phil (James Avery) took the rebellious and energetic teenager under his wing and, over the course of six seasons, helped him become a man. He showed loyal Fresh Prince fans that you don’t have to be someone’s biological father to be considered a father figure; you just need to love, guide, and encourage them.