John Wesley, ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’ actor, dead at 72
John Wesley, actor who had guest roles on shows like “Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” “Frasier,” and “The Jamie Foxx Show,” died this weekend at the age of 72 after a long battle with multiple myeloma, his family announced.
A veteran of the Vietnam War and a graduate of UCSD with a MFA degree, Wesley had over 100 roles in film and television, including an episode of “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” where he plays the parents of a girl that bullies Will’s cousin, Ashley. He also played Mr. Jim, the barber shop owner on “Martin” and the all-knowing janitor Willie on “The Jamie Foxx Show.” His dramatic TV guest roles included appearances on “JAG,” ‘Hill Street Blues,” and “In the Heat of the Night.”
Wesley’s theatrical experience included Ionesco’s “Macbett” and Lillian Hellman’s “Toys in the Attic” at the Old Globe Theatre, which garnered him an Atlas Award for Best Supporting Actor. For the Mark Taper Forum, he appeared in both “An American Clock” by Arthur Miller and “Wild Oats” at New York’s Geva Repertory Theater.
WATCH: John Wesley as Dr. Hoover on "Fresh Prince"
As the Artistic and Producing Director of The Southern California Black Repertory Company, he mounted a multitude of productions including Athol Fugard’s “Sizwe Banzi” and “The Island,” culminating in a three-year tour. Those productions led to an invitation to work with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. While at OSF, he performed in “Richard II,” “Coriolanus,” “Twelfth Night,” and “Two Gentlemen of Verona.”
“John Wesley was a gift to the world, for his kindness and grace are immortalized in his works of theatre, TV and film,” Wesley’s manager Gerry Pass said in a statement. “I am heartbroken to have lost a dear friend today.”
Wesley is survived by his wife, Jenny; his mother, Hazel; stepson Kyler and daughters Kimiko and Kimshasha along with nine siblings and seven grandchildren.