Richest CelebritiesActors
Net Worth:
$3 Million
Date of Birth:
Nov 27, 1945 - Dec 31, 2013 (68 years old)
Place of Birth:
6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Actor, Voice Actor, Soldier
United States of America
💰 Compare James Avery's Net Worth

What was James Avery's net worth?

James Avery was an American actor who had a net worth of $3 million at the time of his death. James Avery died on December 31, 2013 at a hospital in Glendale, California from complications related to open heart surgery. He was 68 years old. Avery was probably most famous for playing the role of Judge Philip Banks on the NBC sitcom "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." The show, which starred an up and coming Will Smith, aired 148 episodes across six seasons from September 1990 to May 1996. In addition to his work on Fresh Prince, James Avery appeared in dozens of movies and television shows in a career that stretched more than three decades. Another notable credit was providing the voice of Shredder on the original "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" cartoon series.

Early Life

James Avery was born on November 27, 1945 in Pughsville, Virginia to mother Florence J. Avery. His father was not listed on his birth certificate as he denied paternity. With his mother, he moved to Atlantic City, New Jersey as a child. After completing high school, Avery eventually served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. He was on active duty from 1968 to 1969. Afterward, he moved to San Diego, California where he began working as a writer for PBS, creating television scripts. He additionally enjoyed writing poetry. During this time, he won an Emmy Award for one of the productions he helped create and soon afterward received a scholarship to UC San Diego where he attended Thurgood Marshall College. In 1976, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in drama and literature.


After a successful career in writing for television, Avery began pursuing work as an actor himself. He initially began booking minor roles in films like "The Stunt Man" and "The Blues Brothers" in 1980. In 1983, he booked a number of roles in television series and films like "Tales of the Gold Monkey," "Newhart," "The Jeffersons," and "Simon & Simon," among others. In 1984, he appeared in "Hill Street Blues," "Legmen," "Hardcastle & McCormick," The Dukes of Hazzard," and Brothers."

In 1985, Avery appeared in episodes of "St. Elsewhere," "Cagney & Lacey," "Kicks," "Space," "Scarecrow and Mrs. King," "George Burns Comedy Week," "The A-Team," and "Moonlighting," He also appeared in the films "Fletch," "Appointment with Fear," and "Stoogemania." The next year, he had roles in "Fist of the North Star," "8 Million Ways to Die," and "Extremities." Throughout the rest of the decade, he continued working steadily in both film and television. He appeared in the film "Nightflyers" in 1987 and "License to Drive" in 1988. He also had a voice role in three episodes of "The Real Ghostbusters" at the end of the decade and appeared in five episodes of "Amen."

Avery booked his most notable role so far in 1987 when he landed the voice role of Shredder in "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." He voiced the character for 103 episodes until 1993. From 1988 to 1992, he appeared in nine episodes of "L.A. Law."

In 1990, he booked the role Philip Banks in the series "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." He starred in an ensemble cast as the uncle to the main character, played by Will Smith. He appeared in 148 episodes of the series until it concluded in 1996. The show was wildly popular with audiences and critics and is largely considered to be instrumental in the development of black television in the United States. His character was listed in the "TV Guide" "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time" list.

(Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images)

After the series ended, Avery landed the lead role of Alonzo Sparks in the UPN comedy series "Sparks." The series lasted for two seasons. Throughout the rest of the 1990s, he appeared in or voiced characters in series like "Captain Simian & the Space Monkeys," "In the House," "Iron Man," and "Aladdin," among others.

In the 2000s, he continued regularly appearing in shows like "Dharma & Greg," "Strong Medicine," "The Nightmare Room," "Soul Food," "The Division," and "Charmed," among many others. He also booked the role of Dr. Crippen on the series "The Closer" in 2005, appearing in 11 episodes until 2007. Films he appeared in around this time include "Think Tank," "Danika," "Divine Intervention," "Steppin: The Movie," and "Let the Game Begin."

His last on-screen appearances were in the television films "Hunt for the Labyrinth Killer," "Go, Bolivia, Go!" and "Call Me Crazy: A Five Film." After his death, he posthumously appeared in the film "Wish I Was Here" in 2014 and his voice can be heard in an episode of "Da Jammies" in 2015.

Personal Life and Death

In 1988, Avery married his longtime girlfriend Barbara. She was working as the dean of student life at Loyola Marymount University. Throughout their marriage, the couple did not have any children together. However, Avery was a stepfather to Barbara's son, Kevin Waters. In 2007, Avery was invited to be the commencement speaker for his alma mater, UC San Diego. He again returned in 2012 to deliver the commencement speech.

On December 31, 2013, Avery passed away at the age of 68 at Glendale Memorial Medical Center. He had been in the hospital previously to undergo open heart surgery. His publicist reported that he had died from complications following the surgery. After his death, Avery received many of tributes from some of his former acting colleagues, including Janet Hubert, Will Smith, Joseph Marcell, and Alfonso Ribeiro. He was considered by many to be a mentor. Avery's remains were cremated and scattered near the Pacific Ocean. In April of 2020, Will Smith united the cast of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" on a video conference call to honor some of Avery's best moments on the show.

Real Estate

In November of 1992 James paid $565,000 for a home in LA's Los Feliz neighborhood. In February 2019, James' estate sold the home for $1.81 million.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
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