James L. Avery, Sr. (born November 27, 1948) is an American actor, best known for his portrayal of the patriarch and attorney (later judge) Philip Banks in the TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, whom Will Smith's character affectionately called "Uncle Phil". This character was ranked #34 in TV Guide's "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time". He also provided the voice of Shredder in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles television series, as well as War Machine in the animated series Iron Man. He also played Michael Kelso's officer at the police academy late in the series run of the popular sitcom That '70s Show.
Avery was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He joined the United States Navy shortly after high school graduation and served in the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1969. After he left the military, Avery moved to San Diego and began writing TV scripts and poetry for PBS. He won an Emmy Award for his production during his term at PBS and was awarded a scholarship to University of California, San Diego. Avery earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theater and Literature at the university and graduated in 1976.
An imposing figure standing at 6'4" (1.95 m), he often plays characters in