James Avery, the much loved patriarch in the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, has died aged 68.
The versatile actor played Uncle Phil to Will Smith's Philly newcomer in the beloved show from 1990 to 1996 and worked on a number of TV and film projects up until he fell ill this year.
TMZ reported that the actor died suddenly in an Los Angeles hospital on New Year's Eve from complications following open heart surgery.
Scroll down for video
Avery, who also suffered from diabetes, had recently undergone surgery for an undisclosed illness and took a turn for the worse late on Tuesday.
They added that his wife of 15 years, Barbara, had briefly left his bedside to get food when he passed away.
His mother Florence Avery 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 Avery's on-screen son 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.'
Jada Pinkett Smith, wife of the show's leading man Will, wrote on Facebook: 'Happy New Year everyone! I was hoping to start the new year differently but we have lost yet another friend. James Avery who we all lovingly know as Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince has passed.
Last appearance: Avery attended the Heroes and Legends Foundation's Awards in Beverly Hills in September
And Tatyana Ali, who played James' on-screen daughter Ashley Banks in The Fresh Prince, also paid tribute to the late star for being her 'protector.'
She wrote on Twitter: 'James was my teacher my protector & the most magnificent actor. We're feeling his loss very deeply. He'll always be apart of me #JamesAvery (sic).'
His Fresh Prince character, Philip Banks, who he played from 1990 until 1996 - was ranked No.34 in TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time.