"Happy New Year everyone! I was hoping to start the new year differently but we have lost yet another friend," Pinkett Smith wrote on Facebook last night. "James Avery who we all lovingly know as Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince has passed.
"Our condolences to aunt Florence (his mother), Miss Barbara (his wife) and all those who loved him. Rest in peace James."
Avery died Dec. 31 at a Los Angeles hospital after suffering complications from open-heart surgery. The veteran character and voice-over actor was 68.
Alfonso Ribeiro and Tatyana Ali, who played Avery's kids Carlton and Ashley Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, also paid tribute to their fallen TV dad yesterday, both of them saying that he was like a father to them during their days on the hit sitcom.
But while there was an outpouring of real grief on Twitter, some posts weren't so genuine.
A post from a fake Will Smith Twitter account (the actor is on Facebook, he doesn't tweet), @Fresh Prince Will, read, "R.I.P. Uncle Phil. All you real Fresh Prince fans out there...DON'T STOP #RETWEETING THIS," and attached was a screengrab of direct messages to NBC suggesting a Fresh Prince reunion. (NBC and E! Online are both members of the NBCUniversal family.)