June 8th, 2010
10:58 PM ET

James Avery is alive and well, thank you very much

At CNN, we are increasingly called upon to see if there's any truth to the celebrity death rumors that often swirl around cyberspace. Just this past Sunday one of them crossed my desk. James Avery, who played "Uncle Phil" on "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air," had died, according to a rumor on Twitter.

I fired off an email to his publicist, Cynthia Snyder, and within a couple of hours she confirmed that Avery was "indeed alive and well – just had a lovely wedding anniversary get away and chuckled at the hoax. He just completed a project with Alfonso Ribeiro [another "Fresh Prince" alum] directing."

But when I caught up with Avery at the premiere of the remake of "The Karate Kid," he definitely wasn't "chuckling."

"Did you see that on Twitter?" he asked. "I don't even know where it came from. Pissed me off, I know that. I mean, really, they're going to take away what little career I have left. My mother was scared. See, I don't understand this whole Twitter, Facebook stuff. I don't get it. Make a phone call. Talk to somebody."

It's yet another example of how the echo chamber of the Internet can magnify falsehoods and innuendos, and a reminder of the real impact rumors have on people's lives.

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soundoff (85 Responses)
  1. can dien tu

    I am no longer sure the place you are getting your information, however great topic. I needs to spend some time studying more or figuring out more. Thanks for wonderful info I was searching for this information for my mission.

    September 11, 2012 at 5:40 am | Report abuse |
  2. Beauz Uhril

    Can I just say what a aid to seek out someone who really is aware of what theyre speaking about on the internet. You undoubtedly know methods to carry an issue to mild and make it important. Extra people have to learn this and perceive this aspect of the story. I cant consider youre no more fashionable because you positively have the gift.

    July 30, 2012 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
  3. Maribeth Lao

    Can I just say what a elimination toward locate a name who in reality knows what theyre talking about on the the web. You unquestionably know how to bring an matter to glow and make it important. Extra people have to to read this plus understand this side of the story. I cant consider youre not extra well-liked since you certainly contain the gift.

    December 11, 2011 at 4:31 am | Report abuse |
  4. FB-Layout

    Hmm… I read blogs on a similar topic, but i never visited your blog. I added it to favorites and i’ll be your constant reader.

    July 12, 2010 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Demented Waltz

    Phew! that's a load off of my mind, now i can sleep at night. i'm just joking, i understand where he is coming from.

    June 10, 2010 at 3:06 am | Report abuse |
  6. td

    I think it's because he bears a striking resemblance to the Isley Brother that recently passed

    June 9, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Sam

    I thought he died years ago.

    June 9, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  8. susanna

    Best phrase of the day.................... PEOPLE ARE HUMAN!! hahaha

    June 9, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Chad Harkins


    June 9, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Lulz

    This has 4chan's /b/ written all over it.

    June 9, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. the other

    Maybe he is a zombie now. Wear a hat and protect your delicious brain!

    June 9, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. sublimesting

    Rest in Peace James Avery. You were a fine actor and will be sorely missed.

    June 9, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. susanna

    Wait...............Oh they didn't mean he was dead.........they meant his career was dead!! that's more like it. It's probably the best press he's gotten in years so don't whine!!

    June 9, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. A

    I agree with Alex and MLF. Mr. Avery has done wonderful things with his career. He is a classy, interesting, and a good actor.

    I do not believe posting on some stupid networking site that he is dead is respectful to him or to the rest of us. Do not spread silly rumors!

    You go Mr. Avery!


    June 9, 2010 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. otto

    What's this guy whining about? Abe Vigoda has to hold some sort of record as the man most reported dead even though he's alive and kicking. Well, I don't know about the kicking part. Seriously, start typing "Abe Vigoda..." into google and it autcompletes "Abe Vigoda dead or alive"

    June 9, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Demented Waltz

      lol! that is awsome, and you are right. I am going to do just that.

      June 10, 2010 at 3:08 am | Report abuse |
  16. Interesting

    I guess this is why CNN news sucks so bad. They are running around checking to see if people are dead or not. How about hiring an editor that can read english.

    June 9, 2010 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Gilbert

    I am just HAPPY Mr. Avery is Alive and well. And I wish him many more decades of the same!

    June 9, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Richard H

    He got his publicity for his new project, reminded people of what he had done in the past, gotta have'em buzzin' about you... The little boy cries wolf again... When someone really needs to reach out, will we all become so callous to these incessant cries for attention that we will no longer recognize authenticity and honesty.

    June 9, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Westview

    R.I.P James Avery....you will be missed 🙁

    June 9, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  20. El Dono

    Mark... you are right on!! What better way to get publicity than to have an "unknown" person spread the death word over Twitter. I would really like to know who started the rumor, though. I wonder how many other rumors get started that don't take.

    June 9, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Bull

    I thought that guy died 10 years ago. Oh well.

    June 9, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Betty

    Sad, lots of these sitcom stars seem to die once their respective shows go off the air and you don't hear from them again. Must suck.

    June 9, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Michael Brown

    Why would someone start a death rumor like this? Nothing better to do than sit at home and make sh-t up up?

    June 9, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Joe M.

    "The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated".
    -- Mark Twain

    June 9, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  25. BC

    Yeah, we're living in a geek world. We've all become those geeks sitting a dark room facebooking and that crazy stuff like those we used to laugh at, you knwo those that were afraid to go out and talk, hang out with, play, have fun with PEOPLE...so the created this whole facebook thing and now every fool is on there. Instead of fackbooking about face to face with real friends.

    June 9, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Mark

    You're all morons for falling for the oldest publicity stunt in the book! Look, it got his name on the internet, a picture of him in perfect health, and all you knuckleheads talking about him. His publicist should be given a medal, and all of you should be hit with a "Stupid Tax" for falling for it!

    June 9, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  27. El Dono

    Twitter is beginning to sound like the cyberspace equivalent of the tabloids at the checkout counter. One is trash, the other is becoming trash.

    June 9, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  28. UncleJohn

    I didn't even know he was sick. RIP James A.

    June 9, 2010 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Michael

    I consider myself to be very techno savy, but I refuse to participate in anything that involves facebook or twitter. Nothing more than crap, plain and simple crap!

    June 9, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      But strangely, here you are posting comments on a blog regarding celebrity gossip. My how "above" it all you are.

      June 9, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • SteveO

      People like to slam that which they don't understand. I have touched base with a lot of my old friends using facebook that i would not have had a chance to simply using a telephone. It's a tool, you can use it, you can abuse it, or you can leave it in the box...

      June 9, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Darren

    Still reminds me of the David Letterman episode when he first moved to CBS from NBC and claimed Larry "Bud" Melman had died and Bud comes on stage and says, "I'm not dead you moron!"

    June 9, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  31. MLF

    Before you start slamming someone for their "dying" career, take a look at your own career. Have you been a working, paid actor for more than 30 years? Are you a voice of a robot in the upcoming Transformers 3 movie? Do you even know how to begin a movie/TV career? Well, Mr. Avery, as far as I can tell, has had a very sucessful career. One many struggling actors would give their right arm for. Also...how would you like it if someone posted on the internet that you were dead? How would your family react when they heard it on the news and on Yahoo? I agree with Mr. Avery. A phone call to his agent BEFORE the posting would have cleared up whether he was in fact deceased. And for the record, I use Twitter, FB, and many methods of social networking and I would never take what I see posted up on those sites as a statement of fact. Every site has been hacked and has had privacy issues. That is public knowledge. Unedited chatter on the internet is not to be taken seriously. The rude comments posted above about Mr. Avery are just plain hurtful and ignorant.

    June 9, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cookie19

      That is so true.

      June 9, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • sandy247

      You said it mister! Anyone who thinks that twitter and facebook are the only ways to communicate, should take a deep breath and wedge themselves out of their computer chair (or put down their handheld devices while driving), blink a couple of times and re-engage their brain...if it is still in there.

      June 9, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  32. JCthinker

    Well it's official, CNN is now the Enquirer. The first sentence of the article is a confession, not a statement.

    June 9, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  33. :(

    Sorry to see he passed away of rectal cancer from taking it so roughly all these years. 🙂

    June 9, 2010 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  34. Diego

    Really... you think Twitter is to the telephone what the telephone was to letters? You need to get out of your Mom's basement and from behind your computer screen. Fresh air will do you well.

    It's been great publicity for him, why is he mad? I forgot he existed until this. It was probably his publicist starting the Twitter rumor to get some much needed publicity to his career.

    June 9, 2010 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  35. Dave

    Facetwit is for the birds. If you want to know what or how I am doing, contact me. Don't expect me to slap it on a billboard along the highway. I refuse to give up my intellectual property rights and privacy just to satisfy the desires of an anonymously voy.euristic society.

    June 9, 2010 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  36. Pat in IL

    I liked him on Fresh Prince, and wish I'd see him more.

    June 9, 2010 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  37. Venkat

    I think Jazz figured out how to use Twitter...

    June 9, 2010 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  38. bh

    He "didn't even know where that came from" Yeah, that's the ticket...if not for the death rumors, do you ever think ANYONE would have heard of his "recently completed project?"

    June 9, 2010 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  39. tomlasusa

    Dammit, I LOVED him on Deep Space Nine!

    (Countdown to Avery Brooks death rumors...5...4...3...2...)

    June 9, 2010 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  40. Fresh

    Sounds like his world got turned upside down.

    June 9, 2010 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • DJ Jeffery Jazzy

      I believe you mean "got flipped turned upside down." 🙂

      June 9, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  41. alex

    Comments from people above only shows today's society ignorance. Congratulations to mr Avery for his clever words and for his talent.

    June 9, 2010 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  42. Slacksville

    RIP Avery Brooks 1949-2010

    June 9, 2010 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  43. Jepoof

    The Buddy Hackett episode of 'Lateline' from the 90s – funniest ever. Built around report that Hackett had died. Some politico told a touching story. But he wasn't dead. The last shot was an 'In Memory of' credit screen to Hackett, and you hear him cursing and threatening lawsutis and stuff. Brilliant. James should set that up on a sitcom or a youtube. Viral gold.

    June 9, 2010 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  44. RIPScottBaio

    I still can't believe Scott Baio died, and now THIS!?

    Don't do pot! Marijuana kills.

    June 9, 2010 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  45. Alex

    The only way to put a clamp on this stuff is there needs to be legal accountability against the people who post false rumors. Avery should be allowed, and able, to sue the original Twitter poster into oblivion. I'm a professional journalist and if I print errors, especially of this nature, I expect to be sued. Twitter is loaded with wanna-be journalists with no concept of libel, fact-checking, or editorial oversight, and it's time for them to be put in their place. Use Twitter to spread news by all means - new media, yippie! - but be correct in what you post. And if you're just posting nonsense thinking you're anonymous, then it's time for that to stop. The fact people are questioning Avery's "make a phone call" statement shows how clueless they are. IF YOU DON'T HAVE ACCESS TO VERIFICATION SOURCES - doesn't matter if it's by phone, e-mail, or carrier pigeon - DON'T POST THE INFORMATION.

    June 9, 2010 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • SCBama

      Right on Alex.....

      June 9, 2010 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Mel


      June 9, 2010 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • MerseysideGal

      Well said Alex...

      June 9, 2010 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Know the Rules

      Its also commonly called "libel."

      June 9, 2010 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Floretta

      Same thing happened a few months back to Canadian singer Gordon Lightfoot, again originating on Twitter. He heard it on his car radio coming back to the office from his dentist. What bothered him was the impact it had on his family (his youngest is 13 and heard it in school! She was understandably freaked, especially as he'd had a real near-death experience in 2002.) He had to make a lot of phone calls fast to reassure his loved ones that it wasn't true, and his office manager had her hands full for days.

      June 9, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  46. be

    He died the day they took Fresh Prince of the air.

    June 9, 2010 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  47. Oleoay

    Sometimes I think TMZ is being quicker and more accurate than CNN.

    June 9, 2010 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  48. Rene

    It really annoys me when people pull the "I'm an idiot, and I don't understand" card and then get angry because they aren't willing to LEARN. Maybe his career wouldn't be in the toilet if he would learn that the meteoric rise of social networking is bringing celebrities and their careers along with it. Get with the program in the 21st century or be prepared to ride your horse and buggy off into the sunset.

    June 9, 2010 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • SCBAMA

      Idiot....Your opinion is why things are so divisive in America.

      June 9, 2010 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Dennis

      I don't think he said he was an idiot. If this really annoys you I would hate to see what really makes you angry. Not everyone keeps up to date with every technological advances society makes. It doesn't make them an idiot. You are the idiot!

      June 9, 2010 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
    • yorky19

      Obviously he knows about Twitter since he asked the guy if he saw the rumor there.

      June 9, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • cookie19

      If he doesn't want to use twitterm, he doesn't have to, especially since his business would be in the street. What an immature and insensitive remark.

      June 9, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      I know it might be hard to understand, but social networking doesn't mean @#%$ to most people. Don't let it make you so angry.

      June 9, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jordan

      "Immature and insensitive."
      "You're opinion is why things are so divisive in America."

      Clearly Obama supporters sucking up their welfare checks and clapping their hands like monkeys that they now get "free healthcare" because they're too stupid to realize it isn't FREE. THAT is why our country is in trouble, not someone using the word "idiot." Worry about your kids' food stamps and not someone voicing their opinion.

      By the way, social networking IS VERY IMPORTANT if you are in the entertainment industry. If you had a real job instead of sucking off the government, you'd know that.

      June 9, 2010 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • trenton


      Ah.. okay... so all the folks that have jobs, aren't on welfare don't support Obama. We also don't support free health care. We're clapping our hands so stupidly. Wow, what a waste!!

      News flash: The country elected Obama on a majority. The 9% of the nation that is unemployed can't possibly be all the folks that voted for Obama or support his care.

      Also, no one ever said free health care. Not even Obama. He just said his goal is to cover every american, and if necessary, offer subsidies to help those who can't quite afford health insurance pay for it.

      You are definitely part of the reason America is not doing so well as well, pal.

      November 17, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  49. TonyMontana

    We'll never forget ole whats his name.....

    June 9, 2010 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  50. Ivan Libya

    Make a call, um, okay, your number please? And if you don't answer, can we go back to the claim you're dead?

    June 9, 2010 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  51. petey

    They were not talking about him... they were talking about his career!! no seriously... LOL...

    June 9, 2010 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Grace

      His career is hardly "in the toilet", as you can see on his IMDb page:


      He's staying VERY active.

      June 9, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  52. Andrew

    Old actors never die...they just get Twittered'....

    June 9, 2010 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  53. ej

    RIP James! You will be missed. GONE TOO SOON!

    June 9, 2010 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  54. Hmmm

    "See, I don't understand this whole Twitter, Facebook stuff. I don't get it. Make a phone call."

    Hmmm...I wonder how many people said the same thing about telephones decades ago...

    "See, I don't understand this whole telephone stuff. I don't get it. Write a letter".

    June 9, 2010 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • JohnRJ08

      The problem with these internet social websites is that many people use their anonymity to get extremely abusive. The blogosphere is filled with e-bullies who have not only made civil discussion next to impossible, but they have also dumbed down the participants. And the rumor-mill is exponentially more active with the internet. Avery's comments are disturbingly accurate. Comparing the negative impact of the internet on our society to the telephone is ludicrous. The internet is the closest thing to anarchy this planet has seen since the last Ice Age.

      June 9, 2010 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      The difference being that telephone versus mail puts a person directly in touch with someone, therefore advancing communication and narrowing the margins for miscommunication. Twitter is a step in the opposite direction, closer to writing letters again. Phone calls = direct communication between parties with back and forth ability. Twitter = one way communication, just as much a backwards step as letter writing, just faster . . .

      June 9, 2010 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      He probably meant using the telephone to call someone like his publicist. The telephone is much more limited in the sense of a widespread rumormill social networking sites seem to thrive off of.

      June 9, 2010 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • remy0326

      I agree with you to a point. Technology is advancing and people should embrace new things. The problem is now, that with Twitter and Facebook, some people then to type before they think and next thing you know its out in the world. Now these people have to back peddle and that information is stored on a hard drive or backup tape forever to bite you in the a$$ later in life.

      June 9, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • TK

      Why are you hatin' on the guy for say that. It's a mean rumor that went around and he has every right to be ticked off. Get over yourself already.

      June 9, 2010 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      VERY CLEVER Indeed you are. Almost laughed out loud.

      June 9, 2010 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • thingsandsuch

      i don't think anyone said that about the telephone. the telephone revolutionized the way we communicate and helped our nation grow. becoming facebook friends with a person you knew in gradeschool so they can stay updated about when you go number two is slightly different.

      June 9, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • JoeStrummer

      Letters, phone, and emails are forms of communication between people. Social networking sites are not. They are just childish forums for people to facelessly throw whatever useless bull**** they want to out into the ether, hoping desparately that some anonymous person will read it and think they're important. Of course, now they are shameless corporate marketing tools as well, making them even more pathetic. America needs to grow the f*** up, and stop thinking that every techno trend is a new or revolutionary way of doing things. It's that kind of thinking that's destroyed education, music, and culture in the US. We are an increasingly juvenille society, and it's going to take us all down.

      June 9, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      See, I completely understand his sentiment. I'm a Computer Geek and am currently going to school for Computer Support and I don't have a Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, LiveJournal, or any other Social Networking account either. They are completely unnessicary. If people are too D*** lazy to pick up a phone and call a friend or loved one to see how they are doing then I personally pity those people. I believe that because people spend so much time online and texting that you lose the true nuiance of interpersonal relationships. Conversations can be influenced not only by the words we use but the tone in which it is delivered. No such things can be divined from text-based communications. This is why I personally talk to all the people that I care about over the phone or face to face. I don't even hardly e-mail anyone anymore unless it's for work purposes.

      June 9, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Johnny

      Your comment is ignorant. You see, the invention of the telephone did not supplant the need to write a letter. Email did. Tweeting is not a replacement for calling someone. It's a messaging system for replacing, yet again, the need to write a letter.

      June 9, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |

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