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The Jack And Helen Frye Story!
Sedona's Celebrity Love Story!
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
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 Taos House Mystery
Jack and Nevada Frye- a Life of Opulence
Jack and Nevada Frye owned many homes and properties during their marriage. Some it seems
were just investments. Jack purchased a ranch in Crystal River Florida and named it the
Nevajac Ranch for “Nevada and Jack" but the Fryes lived primarily at 246 East 49th Street in
Manhattan (they owned the building). Nearby was Jack’s office at 230 Park Avenue where he
worked for 7 years as head of G.A.F. The office was in the (Vanderbilt) New York Central
Railroad Building, originally built in 1928. Interestingly, the property was later owned by the
Helmsley Corp. (Leona Helmsley) and is now called the Helmsley Building (recently renovated).
During his tenure at GAF Jack Frye was picked up in a company limo and driven to 230.
A Child- Aviation Princess- Heir to a Fortune
In the spring of 1953, the Fryes had baby girl which they named Nevajac (for both their names).
Lili Nevajac was born at the private V.I.P. Leroy Sanitarium in Manhattan, at 40 East 61st
Street (off Madison and Park Avenue). When I say V.I.P., it is not to be taken lightly, this art
deco 54-bed hospital, built in the 1928, only treated the super elite, enhanced with a maternity
ward which greeted newborns such as Christina Onassis (December 1950). The pampered
mothers, lodging at times for a week, would order in from the famous Colony restaurant
(667 Madison Avenue) rumored to have been the finest and most expensive eatery in the world.
Nevada Frye joined the likes of famous celebrities such as Nat King Cole, Judy Garland, Janet
Leigh, Barbara Hutton, silent film star Marguerite Clark Williams, Doris Keane, and Walter
Chrysler who also convalesced there (or died) along with many other notables, too numerous to
mention. This former hospital, now as a posh residential condo building, has a remarkable
pedigree. The above information is thanks (in part) to Michael Pollack, New York Times.
The Kingdom of Frye
The Fryes also owned a large estate in Tarrytown New York and were members of the Sleepy
Hollow Country Club. Tarrytown is 25 miles north of Manhattan on the east side of the Hudson
River, and yes, this is the same location as associated with “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”.
The Fryes at first leased, then bought a five-story brownstone at 246 E. 49th Street, Tuttle Bay
Gardens, Manhattan. The Fryes also owned a home in Taos, New Mexico. At the end of their
marriage, Nevada was living in Las Vegas pretty much full time.
A New Corporation- Frye Aircraft Manufacturing
On January 27, 1955, Jack Frye resigned from General Aniline and Film Corporation. A year
earlier in 1954 he had already formed the Frye Corporation. By 1958, Jack was living in Tucson
Arizona and purchased another home there just days before his death. It is assumed this was to
be a part-time residence for Frye who at the time was organizing divorce proceedings against his
wife Nevada Smith Frye. Jack Frye was heavily involved in a commercial venture in this
Jack’s new company would design and produce his totally new plane design tailored to the South
American market and third world countries (see Page 1957). The plane was engineered to be an
economical cargo plane with a general range of 300 to 400 miles. It was proposed at 4 engines-
two props and two jets. This was a very exciting prospect for Jack, as he knew his heart was in
the airline industry, not as C.E.O. of Aniline-Ansco.
His new corporation was based at Fort Worth Texas. At this same time he became a major
stockholder in the Helio Corporation. They manufactured small planes, one model was called the
Courier which was geared to the executive personal plane market. With a payload design for 5
passengers or 1000 pounds it was quite practical. These were short takeoff and landing STOL
type aircraft with low stall speeds at less than 30 mph, cruising speeds of well over 100 mph, and
a range of 400 to 1000 miles. They were designed to be used outside of airports utilizing the
owner's own property or areas where there was no airport. The planes were produced in
Pittsburg, Kansas. In 1959 Jack was in Tucson actively raising money and support to relocate
the Helio plant to Tucson. Jack was quite successful and raised $350,000 (some say half a
million) toward a goal of 1 million dollars.
Death of an Aviation Legend and the Merry Widow
After Jack’s death on February 3, 1959 his estranged widow moved to Belvedere California
where she built a new view palace (129 Bella Vista Avenue). At this posh enclave, across the bay
from San Francisco she lived a life of leisure and traveled. Later, she sold this home and moved
back to Las Vegas where she built another beautiful custom home which later burned down in a
notable fire. After the fire, she sued the fire department for responding to the wrong location
(her attorneys stated this contributed to the loss of her home). Thankfully, much of Jack’s
personal belongings had been moved to a climate controlled storage (previous to the fire).
Nevada Frye never liked Taos New Mexico, she thought it quite primitive, and was far from the
bright lights of Broadway. It was Jack’s dream to own a home there in this picturesque
community which he utilized for a remote get-a-way from his very hectic life. After Jack died,
Nevada had little need for a rustic old Taos adobe and soon sold the property to Hugh and Myrtle
Littrell. The sale was executed by Mrs. Frye from Europe (where she spent much of her time
after Frye died) through her stateside attorneys. This sale was on the date of April 30, 1959,
recorded on July 20th, 1959. Mrs. Frye carried part of the note for the property and remained
the second lien holder until March 3, 1966. This was the end of the Taos Frye association.
The Taos Cottage
The Taos property was exceedingly difficult to track down to a physical address and Jack’s own
daughter knew very little details. Finally, though, a breakthrough in Tucson Arizona! I was not
even sure that Frye actually "owned" the Taos property but I finally stumbled onto an old
newspaper article that mentioned the "house" as part of the late Jack Frye's estate. This was
the "smoking gun" I was looking for. I soon left Tucson for Taos to solve this Jack Frye
mystery! Armed with a just a few fuzzy images, no street address, and a 10-year window, this
"missing" Taos property became the nearly ‘unsolvable’ Taos Frye property mystery!
I spent many hours at the Taos County Assessor's office looking through ancient binders, that
in Taos, go back nearly 400 years to the time of the original Spanish Land Grants. It was
amazing how antiquated the files were having used the same filing methods for hundreds of
years. I was fortunate that I had a title expert with me that knew how to navigate the ancient
texts and we found the Frye property within 30 minutes. I would never had found it on my own.
The Jack Frye property adjoined the historic El Pueblo Lodge at the time of purchase as it still
does today. The Frye “cottage" at 411 Theodora Street as it existed in 1955 is unfortunately not
in evidence today due to extensive remodeling over the last 54 years. Photos of the original
home are non-existent but there does exist photos of Jack Frye in a long camel hair top
coat on the snow covered grounds from 1956. The house was a low slung compact traditional
Taos adobe, built by Saul Harberg in about 1935. Unusual for the Village of Taos it had a full
This particular Frye dwelling was as simple and unpretentious as Jack Frye himself enhanced
by flower gardens, apple trees, tall firs, deciduous trees and a circle drive. Across the driveway
was the Rosen house (407 Theodora Street) it was built at the same time as the Frye residence
by Harberg's business partner Max Ilfeld. Later they sold it to the Rosens.
When Frye purchased the property, Dr. Albert M. and Myrtle S. Rosen were mentioned in the
Frye Warranty Deed in regard to a property division. Jack Frye purchased the Taos property
from Taos dentist, Dr. Reo J. and Mary V. Benson. Another building of note on the Frye
property is now listed as 415 Theodora Street. This particular adobe at one time, at half its
current size, was called the “hay barn” and served the former Benson adobe. This quaint
cottage was also owned by the El Pueblo Lodge and was rented out as the “Honeymoon Cottage”
at one time to hotel guests. The Rosen adobe also had a "hay barn" on property as both homes
stabled horses in the early years. This barn too has been remodeled into a small quaint adobe
home. All other buildings on the 3 former Frye lots are not recognizable as being original
structures from the 1950’s.
Frye Neighbor- Historic Brenner House
The historic Brenner Home sits directly across the street from the Frye property at 202 Beimer
Street. A 1956 Frye photo of this beautiful adobe cloaked in heavy snow still exists today.
Although currently slightly different in appearance the adobe certainly must be a valued
neighborhood asset and is very picturesque.
Sincere thanks to Barbara and Anne Brenner of Taos for their invaluable assistance in fitting
the final pieces to the puzzle of the Taos Frye property mystery! Granddaughter and Great
Granddaughter of the prominent Taos artist Oscar E. Berninghaus, the Brenner family is
recognized as a "Taos treasure" celebrating a long and rich heritage with the community.
Interestingly, a friend of the Frye family when they lived in Taos was a Taos Pueblo Indian
named "Looking Buffalo". This same Indian was known to the Brenner family as "Little Joe
Gomez" and was a model for Berninghaus and the subject of a prominent 1941 painting titled
"Little Joe". Jack and Helen Frye would have very much enjoyed this connection as they had a
deep appreciation for southwestern artists and held a surprisingly rich collection of
southwestern art. In Jack’s earlier marriage he and Helen loved the area of Taos and Santa Fe
very much and likely this contributed to Jack wanting a home in Taos. The Fryes flew into
Albuquerque often (Jack Frye is actually credited with the development of this southwestern
airport) and they landed frequently at the Continental Airport in Santa Fe in their private
Lockheeds. Jack and Helen always stayed at the La Fonda.
Historic Frye Properties
The properties on this page as associated with Jack Frye can now join the other famous Jack
Frye properties like the famous Apache Fires house at Sedona, the (2) Jack Frye Kansas City
estates, the Arlington Virginia Doubleday Mansion, the Arizona Spring Valley and Sunshine
Ranches, the Jack Frye Texas Ranch, the Helen Frye Wings of the Wind estate and the Helen
Frye Sky Fires house (both latter homes are at Sedona, Arizona).
Multi-Faceted Woman- The Real Deal- Vegas Style
Perhaps the well known phrase from the Roger Rabbit movie applies to Nevada- “I’m not bad,
I’m just drawn that way,” as cooed by Jessica Rabbit. In 1954, Nevada was described by N.Y.C.
columnist Lee Mortimer (who knew her) as “the last of the famous characters of show business,
a character being a person who bops cops, crashes gates, gets married, dives off the Brooklyn
Bridge or does equally foolish things.” In spite of the fact that Nevada and Jack were not well
matched and Nevada (born in Reno) was always searching for that solid gold rainbow and found
it with Frye, you gotta admire her verve. She was exquisitely beautiful and crafty- knew what
she wanted- and went after it! Nevada was a shapely dame with moxie and survival instincts-
straight out of a Crawford or Davis movie- certainly, one would describe her as "colorful".