The veteran TV actor passed away yesterday due to complications from open heart surgery at the age of 65. His most famous role was the part of Phillip Banks (or Uncle Phil as Will Smith's character always refered to him) on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, though to nerds he will be forever remembered as the original voice of the Shredder on the 1980s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon and as James Rhodes/War Machine on the 90s Iron Man cartoon (a role he reprised on the 90s Spider-Man cartoon). During the 80s, Avery appeared on numerous memorable programs that ranged from Jeffersons, the A-Team, Simon & Simon, Newhart, St. Elsewhere, and Dallas.
However, it's his two memorable roles that this reporter will always remember him as (and no doubt others too). First, playing the straight man to Will Smith's antics, though, when the show got serious, Avery delivered some stunning performances as well. He was one of the reasons why I always tuned in Monday nights as a nice appetizer before watching WWF's Prime Time Wrestling (Avery also voiced the Junkyard Dog on Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling).
Then there's his role as original voice of the Shredder (though he was the main voice actor, Jim Cummings filled in several times during Season 3 & 4, and several other actors took the role once Avery left the show in later seasons. The character was never the same when he left.) which saw him play an megalomaniac bad guy who wanted to rule the world. Whenever he voiced the role, he carried the character with that distinct voice Avery had and gave the character a nice arrogant edge too.
Avery got to do his own bit of slapstick during the course of the series. A favorite for me was during the mind switching episode when the Shredder was accidentally brainwashed into believing he was Michelangelo. Avery hit that perfect surfer accent that fellow voice actor Townsend Cole had perfected as the tubular Turtle. The other episode that I always remember was when the Shredder took control of an army of marble warriors and the Shredder started to break out in an army song when leading them. Whatever, the case everyone probably had an episode or two that they enjoyed Avery's Shredder in.
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