Thank You For Visiting Sedona Legend-
The Jack And Helen Frye Story!
Sedona's Celebrity Love Story!
This is the official, not to mention only, web portal in the world
dedicated exclusively to the legacy of Jack and Helen Frye!
The Frye Legacy-
a Lifetime of Accomplishment!
By Randall Reynolds
The Sedona Legend Web Site is a copyrighted historical photo enhanced narrative presented for
educational and entertainment purposes. Some materials may be displayed in regard to the
United States Fair Use Act. This web portal is totally non-profit and generates no income nor
does it seek or has it ever accepted a single donation. It is an independent venture.
Sedona Legend was envisioned and created to provide Red Rock State Park visitors a
comprehensive historic overview for Jack and Helen Frye and their Deer-Lick and Smoke Trail
Ranches. This effort is now officially cited by R.R.S.P. as an indepth historical venue
representing Jack and Helen Frye.
Sedona Legend is encouraged by the many friends of Jack and Helen Frye. A gracious thank
you to the Frye and Varner families for invaluable support and Red Rock State Park staff and
volunteers for their enthusiasm.
Sedona Legend Helen Frye a.k.a. the Jack and Helen Frye Story
A Decade of Research and Presentation- Created By Randall D. Reynolds
Copyright © 2003 All Rights Reserved
Oma Bird- Local Icon
She was a friend of mine!"
Polar Bear stands sentry over Sedona's Past
Oma Bird is a legend in Sedona. She owned the famous Oak Creek Tavern along with the
adjoining service station, Oak Creek Market, and motel. This was not just a place to acquire
spirits. It was the meeting place in Sedona for over 50-years and still exists today in Uptown
Sedona as the now famous “Cowboy Club”. Weary travelers could order hearty food and
something to wet their whistle. This is the famous haunt where the Cowboy Artists of America
was born in 1965. With a crackling juniper fire reflecting off the warm walls Oma would serve
movie companies, celebrities, tourists, and native Sedonans, treating each and everyone of
them like family!
The first thing Oma whispered excitedly to me when I found my way up to her Sedona home
was "do you want to see the Polar Bear? Everyone wants to see it.... you can- you know, it is
right out there in the garage!" Oh yes, I knew of the bear. Who hadn't? I was surprised and
touched that it still kept Oma company after all these years. This Polar Bear was also a Sedona
Legend, the mascot of Oma's Oak Creek Tavern. Lording over the patrons, it harkened back
to an association with Alaska and the mystery of the great north. The famous Polar Bear was
now retired to a quiet life of grace in a dusty garage. Mostly forgotten by those thousands of
Oma's patrons, locals and tourists alike, who had once found their way to the comfort of Oma's
watering hole in Sedona, Arizona. Not unlike Oma herself, forgotten and frail and well into her
90's, bedridden but not down. No, not down by any means! I found Oma at the end of her life, a
remarkably astute woman with a twinkle in her eye. I instantly liked her very much as had so
many before me!
Helen Frye was her friend, Oma uttered softly as she squeezed my hand, I noticed a tear in her
eye. Mrs. Bird then quietly related how she knew Helen and what the friendship meant to her.
The pain was evident in her heart when she told of Helen's struggle at the end with cancer.
Helen had called her a long ago day and said, "Oma, can I leave my car in town at your house?"
"Well, of course, you don't even need to ask" was Oma's reply!
Helen drove up to Oma's house from out west at the Frye Ranch, but sadness surrounded her.
She related her agony trying to shed off the dreaded disease. Helen was undertaking a journey
up north, to the Hopis, who wanted to heal her. "It was not successful" said Oma. "Helen died
not long after". All through the years, Helen and Oma shared a special friendship.
Oma and her husband started operating the Oak Creek Tavern in 1945. Oma knew both Jack
and Helen Frye from that time period. Helen would often come into the saloon to visit her
friend and lean on Oma for advice and solace. Many others in Sedona did the same. "But
Helen" Oma says, "was different, a real beauty she was with a heart so big and generous many
took advantage of that later on". Of course, these were the years before and after Jack and
Helen were divorced. "A tragedy" related Oma when asked about the separation, "they were so
much in love. It broke Helen's heart. But Jack was always so busy you know, with his work and
often out of town". Oma continued, "Jack was only interested in one thing, making money".
Obviously the sentiments of a woman who felt her friend had been betrayed.
She continued "back when Helen and Jack were still married, he came into the station for gas
with his partner, Howard Hughes. They were both in high spirits, and we had a nice visit, so
much so, that they completely forgot to pay me! I didn't even realize it until Jack Frye drove
back in and said, ‘Oma, wouldn't you like to be paid for your gas?’ We both had a good laugh
over that one!"
One of the most refreshing stories Oma told me was that of Sedona Schnebly. I was aware that
Sedona had left the community for a time after the death of her child but returned later in life.
This was the period Oma was referring to, "I was working in the bar one day when she came
into the tavern, ‘are you Oma Bird?’ Sedona demanded sharply! "Yes, I am” said Oma."
Sedona continued, ‘I understand that you are a teacher at our Sedona school, yet, I have heard
you also run this bar? I don't know what to think about that!’ Oma convinced Sedona to sit
down and visit for a spell. Oma then conveyed to Sedona that she and her husband were just
trying to make an honest living the best they could. "I love children and enjoy teaching them
so much, but I have to help run this restaurant and bar too. Times were hard in Sedona back
then and a person really had to work hard to survive” related Oma. The two came to an
understanding, and finally, Sedona got up to go, as she did she turned and stated firmly ‘I like
you Oma Bird! I'm glad you are teaching our children!’ That day Oma passed muster, her
judge, the founder of Sedona herself (Sedona Schnebly), and in the process a new friendship
Toward the end of Helen's life she lost her voluptuous figure (like so many women her age).
Oma related how Helen had checked into a weight loss spa. When she returned to Sedona she
came by Oak Creek Tavern to see Oma. "Her figure had returned and she looked radiant" said
Oma. Helen twirled around in front of Oma and the ever-observing Polar Bear. ‘Well what do
you think, am I beautiful again? Was it worth it?’ Helen beamed. "You look wonderful" Oma
said, "your old self again!"
"What about the end of Helen's life?" I queried. A shadow came over Oma's face, "a real
mess" she said. Then her voice became a whisper, I had to lean close to hear "Helen was taken
in you know.... by that group, I saw it all. Helen would come in and confide in me. A lot of
strange things were going on out at that ranch of her’s."
Toward the end of our interview Oma told me she never even thought to get a photo of her dear
friend and when Helen died it was too late. I had brought several of Helen, and Jack for her to
retain. When I offered them to her she was visibly touched. As she gazed at Helen's picture, I
noticed her faded eyes become misty. "Helen was a friend" she whispered in a broken voice,
"one of my very best!" She clutched the photograph to her heart and shut her eyes, I knew at
that moment the interview was over and Oma wanted to be alone. I knew I had experienced in
that moment a true friendship.
I left sadly as I knew Oma's life was now only brightened by those that would call on her. The
glamour days of Sedona were over for her. Those that helped build this community like Jack
and Helen Frye, and many others, as well, were gone now. Soon Oma, would too join her friends
who had shared the early days of this glorious community we call Sedona!
How Jack Frye helped transform Sedona
from shades of gray to vivid vibrant COLOR!
Jack Frye, one of the original three founders of TWA and long time president, first came to
Arizona in the mid 1920's, later to Sedona Arizona in the early 1940's. It must be noted that
Jack Frye is credited with greatly promoting tourism to this grand state, as well as, initiating
the very first regular scheduled passenger air service through the state via Phoenix to Tucson.
It was Jack Frye, who was greatly responsible, for introducing Arizona as a winter get-a-way, to
celebrities and Hollywood movie stars through the miracle of early air transport.
By spring of 1941, Jack and his wife, the former Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Jr., were buying up
tracts of ranch property near Baldwin's Crossing (now Cathedral Rock and Crescent Moon
Recreational Area) near what we now call Sedona. The Frye "Smoke Trail Ranch" encompassed
over 700 acres of prime red rock Oak Creek property yet this was just a small portion of the
50,000 acres the Frye's owned statewide. As two of the earliest celebrities to call Sedona home,
Jack and Helen shared their utopia hide-a-way with many notables and personal friends
throughout the years, many names now lost.
In February of 1947, Jack Frye resigned from TWA after 13 years (as president) and 17 years
with the organization. He had been in aviation for 25 years. During that time Frye served as
either operating head or president of various companies. As for TWA Jack left the company
after an disagreement with Howard Hughes (TWA's biggest stockholder). Perhaps more
realistically though the rift was with Noah Dietrich. From a dream Jack built TWA from the
ground up and soon became the recognized "father" of TWA, widely loved and respected by his
employees and colleagues, all of which he considered family. In spite of the famous rift, to
Jack's credit, he was always available for his old friend Howard in the ensuing years. This says a
lot about Jack's love for TWA and his stellar character. Proof of this loyalty surfaced in 1957
when Jack was implored through secret negotiations to resume the presidency of TWA and save
the then floundering airline. In the end, Jack decided to move on with his own ventures rather
than try to work with Howard again. Jack never stopped caring deeply about “his” TWA and the
proposal caused him great anguish. He died less than 2 years later in a tragic auto accident.
Jack was not without career prospects after TWA. In 1947, he was soon to once again shoot like
a rocket to the top of the corporate world. It comes as no surprise that he was encouraged to
run for president of the United States a challenge he decided to pass on. Jack had been one of
the youngest corporate leaders ever and one of the best pilots in the nation, a real genius.
However, Jack was at heart a pilot-entrepreneur, everything he touched turned to gold and
TWA was an excellent example. So revered was this giant of a man, that recently he was
inducted into Harvard School’s "Great American Business Leaders of the 20th Century", an
unparalleled honor! With this accolade, Jack now resides in the company of some of the most
successful business leaders our country has ever known, certainly very much deserved! Of
course, Jack also has been inducted into the "National Aviation Hall of Fame", Journal of the
Air Force Association, as well as, many other fine organizations.
Jack, an avid photographer, possessed very
advanced photographic skills and equipment
which he utilized photographing the Sedona
area. (Left) is a photograph that appeared as a
Christmas card one year by the Frye's and
subsequently became one of Transcontinental
& Western Air’s most circulated postcards.
What is not widely known is that Jack took
the original. Printed on the bottom of the
postcard are the poignant words "Use your
camera, remember your trip with pictures",
this an ‘oft used TWA catch phrase.
Corporate Leader is Snared for Government Seizure
Photo of Jack Frye in about 1947-48 (corporate portrait).
Location is likely General Aniline Corporation (ANSCO,
GAF) Board Room, 230 Park Avenue, New York City
(Manhattan). For 8 years Jack Frye's offices were at the
Vanderbilt- New York Central Railroad Building (built
1928) and later owned by Leona Helmsley. Recently
renovated and one of Manhattan's most notable landmarks.
The two positions that Jack soon settled on were president
and later CEO of General Aniline and Film Corporation,
(G.A.F.), Ansco Film Corporation and General Dyestuff.
These divisions employed over 9,500 employees around the
country. Jack's experience and interest in photography
paid off and was well exhibited with his passion of
meticulously documenting, photographically, TWA's
achievements and milestones. So at four times his salary
with TWA, Jack took control of this struggling enterprise on July 1, 1947. Profits increased by
50 percent the first year alone and for the next 8 years Jack turned the struggling corporation
into one of the most successful enterprises in the country. Ansco was the only competitor of
Kodak at that time, producing all manner of film and related equipment, as in Agfa-ANSCO,
not to mention Hollywood celluloid for blockbuster films.
During this time frame, Helen and Jack vacated their home near Washington D.C., (the
Doubleday Mansion) and moved to New York City. A metropolis all too familiar to Helen, where
she had spent much time with her previous husband Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jr., let alone Jack.
The Sedona ranch was her preference; however, and she and Jack would escape there as often
as possible. Both of them considered Arizona their home state. Interestingly, Jack's address is
documented in "Who's Who" and other publications as Smoke Trail Ranch in Sedona, even
though he and Helen had several other fine homes. From the years of 1947 to 1950 Helen and
Jack were completing their dream home "the Apache Fires house" at their Sedona Smoke Trail
Ranch in Sedona, this between obligations in New York City.
"Looking for new worlds to conquer, is indeed,
the natural environment of Jack Frye,
Chairman of the Board of General Aniline &
Film Corporation. This pioneer aviator,
formerly president for many years of T.W.A.,
today directs one of the world's great industrial
empires. His multiple duties include the
responsibility of manufacture and distribution
for a variety of diversified products....
dyestuffs, chemicals, Ozalid copying machines,
sensitized materials, Ansco Cameras, film and
sundries. Time is of the essence to such men as
Jack Frye and his associates. It is for
safeguarding the precious moments of
executives such as these.... and for you....
Rolex Watches are made available by the
leading jewelers of the United States."
Jack endorsed many products in the course of
his career. The one to the left is for
The American Rolex Watch Corporation. This
ad was done in the early 1950's while Jack was
with General Aniline and Film Corporation.
The photo of Jack appears to be from 10 years
earlier (TWA). The Ad text appears below:
Media quote about Frye in regard to TWA and Ansco appeared
in the early 1950's- "Although soft spoken and always gracious in
manner, Frye is a hard driving-executive and one who burns the
midnight oil in his work."
Sedona Arizona is said to be the most photographed region in the United States; however, this
was not always the case. When early residents first scraped out homesteads on the banks of
Oak Creek they understandably were more concerned about hostile Indians and growing crops
than taking snapshots. In time, this changed, as tourists found their way to Sedona for fishing,
hunting, and relaxation. Sedona became a mecca for Hollywood location films, offering perfect
weather and scenery. The following is from an personal interview with Sedona's Bob Bradshaw:
A young man stumbled into Sedona during this early period (about 5 years after Jack Frye)
their paths soon to cross. This young man's name was Bob Bradshaw, a struggling
entrepreneur, who later was to become a household name. Bob had traveled the United States
for about 10 years, seemingly, searching for something, somewhere, his destiny. What he
eventually found was beyond his wildest dreams, a location so beautiful so unspoiled that it
defied description. This place was the Red Rock Country. With gifted eyes Bob saw his destiny
spread out before him in the guise of crimson rocks and breathtaking vistas. In a vision, only a
photographer could experience, Bob Bradshaw dreamed up a marriage of Sedona and Film.
Launching a photography shop in Sedona 55-years ago was a difficult venture. Uptown Sedona
offered virtually no decent retail space, let alone services. The building Bob located was small
with a selling price of $2000.00. For financing, Bob approached the Bank of Arizona in
Clarkdale. The outcome was not favorable; however, as the bank sent Bob a letter stating the
Sedona market was not a good risk. Unbelievable, in regard to today's Sedona business market.
Fortunately though, the building's owner worked out a deal whereas Bob could rent the building
for $15.00 a month. So Bradshaw made the best of it all and soon opened his doors. At the onset
though, Bob encountered difficulty stocking the store with film, in a manner of which he could
make a profit. He was not successful in getting a Kodak or Ansco film distributorship which
could net him wholesale prices. Both were the then largest competing film companies of the
world. A conversation by phone between Bob and the two companies went like this-
"Yes, this is Bob Bradshaw in Sedona Arizona. I'm selling your film in my business but I can't
buy it out here low enough to make a profit...."
"Where did you say you are?"
"Sedona Arizona" answered Bob....
"Where the hell is that?.... Sorry, we can't help you".... click!
Subsequently Bob was forced to take the Greyhound Bus to Flagstaff at 25-cents each way just
to secure enough film to stock his photo shop. At that chilly locale, the merchants offered him
a slight break on the price, but not enough for him to generate a profit; however, fortunately
for Bob, fate was soon to intervene....
To the left is the actual Bank of Arizona letter
from 1949, and below, is Bob and his wife Bea
outside of his first Sedona Arizona uptown
film business in 1949 (east side of 89A).
Sometimes who you know can grease the wheels of success-
One word from Jack Frye opened a lot of doors in 1949!
One day in 1949 Bob was gazing across 89A toward Oak Creek Tavern. Lost in thought, he was
contemplating how he was going to get Kodak or Ansco to help him. Suddenly, he spotted a
well-dressed man in a big Cadillac convertible. A light went off in Bob's head and in a flash he
was out the door. As he approached the car, the words spilled forth, "Mr. Frye, Mr. Frye, Please
may I talk to you for a minute?" (Bob had heard that Jack Frye was now president of Aniline
Film Corporation.) "It's nice to meet you, Mr. Bradshaw, how can I help you?" said Jack, as he
puffed on his trademark cigar. Bob proceeded to explain his predicament to the sympathetic
Jack, after which, Jack said, "don't worry Bob, I'll take care of you!" As Bob watched the posh
automobile glide away he wondered if his fate had finally changed for the better.
Uptown Sedona in 1949 showing Oak Creek Tavern with a Union 76 sign on the front. This is
the scene where Bob flagged down Jack Frye's Cadillac convertible and asked him for a favor.
Within two days, three men in fancy business suits showed up at Bradshaw's Photo Shop, falling
all over themselves with the words, "what can we do for you, Mr. Bradshaw?" Jack had made a
simple phone call and the door opened all the way from Los Angeles, California. To this day,
Bob Bradshaw makes no bones about crediting Jack Frye in helping him get his struggling
enterprise launched and says he would have gone under without the generous favor.
Jack, a lover of photography, saw the potential of Sedona and had no problem helping out a
fellow entrepreneur. Up until this time, only black and white film was available in Sedona, so it
is not a mis-statement to say, "that Jack Frye helped bring the world of COLOR to Sedona."
And as soon as Bob started stocking color film other Sedona merchants did the same.
Eventually, Bob wrote Kodak headquarters in Rochester, New York. The result was a response
from the vice-president who offered Bob a distributorship in regard to his association with
Ansco (GAF) and Frye. It really is "who" you know in this world and Bob proved that! Kodak
was not one to pass up a little competition with Ansco, and their rival, Jack Frye!
Late 1940's advertisements
courtesy of Aniline Film Co.
(GAF) Kodak's only rival
As an example, while Jack Frye was CEO and president of Ansco, the corporation's celluloid
was used in the famous 1954 MGM film, "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers". This film used the
exclusive Ansco Color Process. The academy award winning Hollywood blockbuster was shot
twice, wide version, and narrow version, to accommodate the U.S. market screen sizes. A real
coup' for Ansco. As one of the most popular of all MGM musicals, it was enhanced with vibrant
rich color and remains a fine example of Ansco technology. This was just one aspect of Jack's
career as head of this international company!
Bob soon found a better location across the street, and a little north, at 297 North Highway 89A.
Bob was offered 3 truck loads of unused construction lumber from the movie sets of “Broken
Arrow” (a production he was involved with). With these materials, a new building he designed
soon took shape, adjoined by an old west style mini-set, with viewing tower for tourists to get
great shots of Sedona and the canyon. As one of the first new buildings to enhance uptown
Sedona, this photography shop was to become a great success! Soon Bob aspired to be one of the
Southwest's most recognized photographers, with his work appearing in a variety of
publications, not to mention gracing the pages of Arizona Highways magazine for over 30 years.
Shopping for postcards in Sedona and the southwest? Undoubtedly, you had to sort through
many of Bob's lovely vistas, distributed by Bradshaw Studios. Eventually Bob took up ranching,
securing one of the most beautiful properties in Sedona. With his knowledge of the red rock
country he was a natural as a professional movie location scout for Hollywood film makers.
Within this association, he has appeared in many blockbuster films and even erected a movie
set on his ranch which has been utilized in numerous Hollywood westerns. In time, he started a
popular "Western Movie Trails" horseback riding business and has successfully published
numerous popular books and publications. Now, over five decades later, Bob Bradshaw “is” a
household name in Sedona.... a local legend. With the appearance of a real ole' time cowboy,
Bob is an 'information treasure trove' of Sedona's exciting film-history past.
The business Bob launched 55 years ago, eventually was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Rollie Houck. It
survives today as Rollie's Camera Shop, a true Sedona landmark. It is said, more film is sold at
this location than any other film shop in Arizona!
This page is respectfully dedicated to Sedona treasure and icon
Bob Bradshaw who recently passed away August of 2008.
All materials used with permission from Bob Bradshaw.
Bob's second and most famous film store appears below with an advertisement.