01/01/2014 02:47 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 10:52 EST

James Avery Dead: 'Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air's Uncle Phil Dies At Age 65

James Avery, the actor best known for his role as "Uncle Phil" on the sitcom "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air", has died.

Avery passed away Monday night following complications from open-heart surgery. The actor's publicist confirmed the news with CNN Tuesday morning.

Avery was reportedly staying at a hospital in L.A. and had previously undergone surgery for an unknown illness before his condition deteriorated, according to TMZ.

Avery's character was known as the stern, but loving "Phil Banks", a judge and uncle to Will Smith's character "Will". He was also a father to three of the show's characters, including Alfonso Ribeiro who played the character of "Carlton Banks". Ribeiro tweeted out his condolences Tuesday afternoon.

Born on Nov. 27 1948, Avery was a classically trained actor. He served in the U.S. Navy and in Vietnam before moving on to acting and television in the 1980's, according to his IMBD page. When he wasn't on screen, Avery lent his voicing talents to kids cartoons such as "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and the animated "Iron Man" series.