Although known as the uncle/patriarch and judge “Philip Banks” on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990), James Avery was a classically trained actor and scholar. A native of Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA, he joined the US Navy after graduating high school and served in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969. Upon leaving the military, he moved to San Diego, California and began writing TV scripts and poetry for PBS. He won an Emmy for production during his tenure there and deservedly won a scholarship to the University of California at San Diego, from which he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Drama and Literature. (Sidenote: His wife Barbara is the Dean of Student Life at California’s Loyola Marymount University.) In addition to his sitcom popularity, he lent his voice to over a dozen animated television series and features. He was also the primary host of the popular PBS travel and adventure series Going Places (1997). Armed with a diverse resume of credits, James Avery remained a unique creative force as convincing a comedian as he was a Shakespearean character.
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