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
The private photo (above) of the Frye-Vanderbilt Wedding was offered to Sedona Legend by
Helen Varner Frye's family. Jack Frye (36) and Helen Vanderbilt (32) are seen (center) on
horses with TWA Director Ralph Euler (Sewickley PA.) as best man (left) also on horse. Helen
Vanderbilt's good friend, and her mother's best friend, Mrs. Anita L. Smith (is center) with hat.
The wedding took place against the red cliffs of Echo Canyon with 10 people in the wedding
party (only 8 appear in the above image). Others which are unidentified are Mrs. Ralph Euler
and Mrs. Paul L. Hibbard (Westwood CA.). It is thought Paul Hibbard (also a TWA Director)
was there as well. The wedding was performed by Justice of the Peace Paul V. McCaw. Above is
only 1 of 2 images of the wedding known to exist, the 2nd (a different pose) appears below.
Helen Vanderbilt wore a buckskin skirt and jacket with wedding corsage of Ocotillo blossoms.
The skirt is still owned by one Helen's best friends (I have seen it and it is petite). The Fryes
and the wedding party were staying at the Camelback Inn at Scottsdale which adjoined the
beautiful preserve called Echo Canyon. The wedding party rode horses to the ceremony and all
were required to wear costumes of western regalia. The wedding breakfast was a hearty sunrise
fare, which included bacon and eggs cooked over a crackling campfire. The new Mrs. Frye acted
as hostess, not only helping to cook the breakfast, but also serving her wedding guests. The
Fryes left Scottsdale for Los Angeles and Palm Springs on the initial stage of their honeymoon,
shortly after the ceremony. Please note, at one point Jack Frye mentioned to reporters he was
awaiting a last minute guest, his brother Don Frye returning from Mexico City for the wedding.
The Frye-Vanderbilt Wedding
Scottsdale Arizona- New Year's Day- 1941
Frye Ranch @ Sedona- a 'Place Of Our Own'
Even before Jack and Helen married they sought a place of their own to live. Helen was not
fond of Jack’s boyhood ranch in the Texas panhandle yet Jack desired a working cattle ranch.
One need remember the Fryes spent much time together from the fall of 1938 on- both still
married to other mates. In the fall of 1940, Jack and Helen would slip away from Jack’s hectic
life at TWA to canvas the Western United States looking for the perfect ranch property.
According to interviews with Jack, they flew in his private plane over parts of California and
most of New Mexico looking for any suitable property that had water. From there they started
looking in Northern Arizona. When they passed over the area now called Sedona, they both
looked out the cockpit windows and said, “that’s our place!” The area was so primitive back
then that Sedona was not even found on flight charts and had no airport. Jack and Helen
continued to Los Angeles, eventually, Jack identified the area. In June of '41, he surprised
Helen with a flight to Prescott Arizona, one of the closest communities to Sedona which had an
airport. There, they left his Lockheed Twin L12, rented a car and drove old 89A highway
through Jerome and down into what is now "Old Town" Cottonwood. Eventually, they located
Sedona realtor Andrew Baldwin, who met them at Sedona and showed them the old Armijo
Ranch (now Cross Creek Ranch) which they bought on the spot. Jack immediately started
buying up adjoining parcels and by October they purchased the large acreage next door called
the Schuerman Ranch. They re-named the first ranch Deer-Lick Ranch and the second Smoke
Trail Ranch. The second property is where Red Rock State Park is now. The Fryes had found
“their” Sedona ranch and it soon came to encompass an estimated 700 some acres!
Flyer-Designer-Mrs. Jack Frye
A Hat Shoppe in Beverly Hills
Spring of 1941
A Millinery Shop is Launched-
Often times, the keys to a person's past are misplaced and lost forever, but not in the case of
Helen's fashion connections! For years, I have heard that Helen designed clothes and hats for
Marlene Dietrich, helped design new uniforms for Transcontinental & Western Air hostesses,
and had a fashionable Hat Shoppe, in Beverly Hills California, in the 1940’s. Helen is
remembered as being a very talented seamstress and designer. In regard to TWA, some
doubted the rumors, saying it must be fantasy. However, persistence does indeed pay off!
Finally, I have found the evidence of this endeavor and hope to someday find even more
information. As far as the Hat Shop, I always assumed it was during her Vanderbilt days. But a
surprise! Helen actually opened the shop soon after her marriage to Jack Frye who fervently
supported her fashion insights! In addition to Helen’s fashion interests, she was an illustrator
of note, canvas artist, sculptor, and writer, certainly multi-talented! In addition to all this,
Helen was a pilot, amateur architect, and marvelous cook who was instrumental in streamlining
TWA's in-flight food service of the 1940's.
Jack and Helen Frye often stayed at the
Ambassador Hotel when in Los Angeles, home
of the famous Ambassador Cocoanut Grove
Nightclub, where they were often seen with
their friend Howard Hughes. Their home in
N.Y.C. was @ 345 Park Avenue (the world
famous Hotel Ambassador) where they kept a
posh penthouse apartment for many years.
By mid-March, two months after their January marriage, Jack and Helen Frye were again back
in Los Angeles, this time at the Ambassador (instead of the Beverly Wilshire). Jack was there
on TWA business as was always the purpose of his travels, while Helen was promoting her new
millinery shop, which was recently opened in Beverly Hills.
The new hat fashion shop was a joint venture between Mrs. Frye and Mrs. Mark T. McKee. The
enterprise was financed in part by Jack Frye. Mrs. Mark McKee of Pasadena was also known as
Evelyn McKee, married to wealthy airline executive Mark T. McKee, who was a long time board
member (30 years) with Pan American Airways, among other executive positions. She and
McKee were divorced in November 1942, after 10 years, in a well-publicized scandal ridden
divorce custody trial, after which, a 10-year court battle over their son Terry Alexander ensued.
It seems unlikely that Evelyn had much time to devote to hat making being the mother of a
2-year-old child. Likely Helen was more involved with the shop after 1942. It is not known the
street location of the business or what became of it. My feeling is that by the mid-1940's the
shop was closed due to the war or McKee's complicated divorce proceedings. You can be sure
Jack Frye was not keen on Helen being associated with the Evelyn McKee scandal (as a business
partner) and wouldn't have wanted any negative McKee publicity to cast a shadow on TWA.
Helen (a designer since high school) was interviewed and photographed in the Frye suite at the
Ambassador with an interesting array of over 2 dozen hats- all Helen Frye creations! One would
wonder if she had all the hats flown out from the east coast on TWA. But before the former
Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Jr. (daughter-in-law of Grace Vanderbilt) married Jack Frye she
lived at a mansion in exclusive South Pasadena (259 Monterey Road). It was there she was
stockpiling her creations at her home studio. A March 14, 1941 interview and photos ran in the
Los Angeles Times but because of copyright restrictions I am unable to republish such here.
However, we can certainly explore the details of the article and some of Helen’s quotes (which
are not subject to copyright) along with interjected facts and details that enhance the interview.
Helen was described by Los Angeles Times Fashion Editor Sylvia Weaver as an auburn-haired
blue-eyed beauty, dressed on the day of the interview in a smart “tailleur” of beige gabardine
(a tailored jacket) with a bright green silk blouse and slacks, all highlighted by a beige straw hat
of red and green, with a high crown and wide brim. Helen stated that she felt a lady’s hat should
“frame the face” not deter from it. All of her hats were pre-approved by Jack Frye before she
wears them (which is certainly a courteous concession for the very independent Helen Frye, in
my mind). Helen was described as the picture of "chic", an aviator and flyer herself. Helen was
indeed a pilot and this fact has surfaced in an interview with her former husband Cornelius
Vanderbilt, Jr. in the 1950's. I would imagine she was taught by Jack Frye, and or, her former
hometown pal Tommy Smith, who was a noted aviator in his own right. It does not seem that
Helen kept her piloting skills current after the mid-1940’s.
Helen Frye’s creations were described as “daring and original”. This is certainly a compliment,
as so many of Helen’s personal friends throughout the years have described her talents thusly!
One of her new hats resembled a mock birthday cake, in cream fabric, with a full spray on top
(which simulated candles), while another consisted of a cooper wire frame work with antennae.
Helen explained a creation she was at work on which would be crafted out of Philippine grass,
actually inspired by a piece of furniture she spotted once, which utilized the same medium. Mrs.
Frye also exhibited to the reporter an array of exotic fabrics and materials used in designing.
Direct Helen Frye quote: “I get ideas for hats all the time” Helen explained, “when Jack and I
were in Florida recently (honeymoon) I wanted something to keep the sun out of my eyes so I
cut up a newspaper and folded it like a little boys soldier hat, and presto, I had a bonnet which
folds into nothing for packing, yet unfolds into a very attractive off-the-face-hat. I’m having it
patented now. Jack encourages me in designing. I tie scarves around my head in a circle halo on
top my hair, letting three corners hang down in back which gives a new line.” Mrs. Frye
continued, “a man wants to look at a woman’s face; if he can’t see her eyes, he complains.
What’s the use of hiding your eyes, your hairline, under a lot flowers or straws, or ribbons? I'm
having a hat made now of Philippine grass which I saw on a piece of furniture- and of course,
you've seen my hat made out of copper chicken wire and antennae, haven't you?"
Mrs. Frye, an ardent sportswoman, has traveled every corner of the United States and receives
her fashion ideas from the country's styles at large, and as well, the women she meets. In the
past she would travel with her dogs in her automobile from region to region, often alone. The
former Mrs. Vanderbilt has also traveled extensively by steamer, back and forth across the
Atlantic, throughout Europe and the Orient, two regions which no doubt have also influenced
her fashion creations. Just as the orient-influenced art deco trend has swept across world
influencing fashion and décor. In her travels with her husband, TWA president Frye, they
recently returned from Florida and the Caribbean. They also have traveled extensively on the
east coast and throughout the mesas of the southwest. No region, Helen stated, has the
“California sport style” a trend she admires for its smart appearance, simplicity, and vibrant
array of colored fabrics.
Mrs. Frye conveyed to Sylvia that she felt Los Angeles would someday replace Paris as the
fashion center of the world, especially in regard to the Hollywood studio factory of clothing
styles which have greatly influenced current trends and clothing designs nationwide. At the time
of the article, Helen Frye was said to be designing a complete "air wardrobe" an ensemble of
smart and practical outfits for the modern woman to wear who travels on airplanes extensively.
Another Helen Frye quote from the article: “My shop? Oh, yes, I am part owner of a hat shop.
But my fashion career comes second, definitely second, to my marriage. Why should I bother
about selling hats when I’m happily married for the first time in my life!”
The Very First TWA Suit!
Designed by Mrs. Jack Frye
Helen Frye is remembered within Transcontinental & Western Air to have contributed to the
redesign of the 1940's TWA uniforms. It was Jack and Helen Frye's desire to update the dowdy
and dated TWA hostess attire. Other TWA associates were also involved in this endeavor.
Retired TWA Captain Walt Gunn was most specific about Helen's contributions, even to the
point of describing the end result in detail, as implemented and seen clothing hostesses on
flights. Walt Gunn knew Helen and Jack Frye personally so it is not a surprise that he was privy
to this information.
On May 31, 1941 again Los Angeles Times fashion editor Sylvia Weaver addressed a revelation
in new uniform design created in Hollywood in an article with a photo of herself standing in
front of a Douglas DC-3 with 7 smartly dressed W.A.L. (formerly W.A.E.) airline stewardesses.
Although the stewardesses were from Western Airlines (WAE) the outfits were designed in part
by two women "quite familiar with the aviation industry" as the article stated, Mrs. Jack Frye
(TWA) and Mrs. Mark McKee (PanAm). The article specifically mentioned that the new
stewardess hat was designed in Beverly Hills by the two hat makers at their shop. Quote: "The
gay hat of open-crown beige cloth and brown silk jersey drape is a radical departure from severe
uniform hats." The outfits were accompanied by smart brown pumps and a large brown leather
bag (clutch) -likely for stewardesses personal items for transit to and from the plane to airport.
You will notice an identical leather bag in the photo of another Helen Frye uniform design below.
The stewardess outfits (unnamed designer) were said to be the very first ever designed in
Southern California. The tailleur outfits were of beige light wool material (jacket) accompanied
by an open necked lemon silk blouse with skirt (matching the jacket) which hung at knee
length. I must say that I feel the outfits were more typical of the 1950's than the 1940's and
were quite stylish and futuristic for 1941! The new uniforms were being modeled for the June 6
1941 Long Beach event, "Wings Over The Nation", which honored and celebrated stewardess
nationwide. Out of the seven Western Air employees, Sylvia had the difficult task of picking
one girl to represent the tailored outfit at the event. The honor was bestowed on "Sky Hostess"
Margaret Patricia Gillette from Butte Montana who is the Western Airlines stewardess assigned
to Western Airlines flights from Salt Lake City to Lethbridge Canada.
Helen Frye modeling the first TWA "suit" for Jack Frye with a
backdrop of the magnificent Cathedral Rock @ Sedona Arizona
A Helen Frye exclusive creation- designed and sewn by herself!
Western Airlines (W.A.L.) Uniforms and Hats
Mrs. Jack Frye (shown above) models the new TWA suit she designed and tailored (about 1942-
1943) one of many new designs she created for TWA flight personnel! This particular suit was
not implemented at TWA to my knowledge. You will notice this uniform is quite a departure
from the typical outfits (skirts) worn by TWA Hostesses. The color of the photo has deteriorated
but be assured the (tailleur) sport jacket top and slacks are actually celery green in color, with
tan kerchief in the left jacket pocket, and wide lapled white blouse folded out. Under Helen's
right arm is a large buckskin colored leather clutch (as discussed in the W.A.L. designs above).
A remarkable lost image (from slide or movie film) which shows that Helen Frye (a talented
seamstress) was involved in the re-design of TWA uniforms just as I have been told. I hope to
find more evidence to this end as time goes on. As I have said many times over, Helen Frye was
not just a president’s wife, she stood beside her husband and helped in any way she could with
projects suited to her talents. Jack Frye was always most appreciative of Helen's contributions
to his company. Helen designed another matching outfit as evidenced by another image similar
to the one shown above. I would call this second design more of a wrap-around dress uniform.
The material is the same (a celery green). Quite lovely and smart with blocked 1940's shoulders
sans the kerchief. Unfortunately, I am not able to display a photo of this outfit at this time but
it does show truer colors and has not deteriorated. With Helen Frye's ruby red lipstick and
matching nails the image is a stunner! It's no wonder the dazzling effect she had on men.
Helen Frye contributed to TWA with novel ideas for improved in-flight food service according to
former TWA associates. Please note, the Fryes held patents on food preservation methods for
airliners (see Page 1960). Helen also either implemented an employee manual for hostesses, or
helped with one, as her name was said to be mentioned in regard to her suggestions in a manual
used for many years by TWA employees (this per TWA Captain Walt Gunn). Unfortunately,
these rich and priceless Helen Frye TWA connections have been largely overlooked by current
Because Jack Frye died so very young (at 54), interviews of his contributions to TWA history
(from his later years, looking back) have been sorely missed. Instead we hear largely from
historians that never knew the man and remember nothing of the little known details of the
TWA Frye era. A real tragedy.
The creation of Transcontinental & Western Air Hostesses is traced back to Jack Frye who
decided shortly after becoming president of TWA that a stewardess program was long overdue.
American Aviation Magazine had this to say, from Clancy W. Dayhoff (TWA Public Relations
Director), excerpt, “late in 1935, Jack Frye gave T. Park Hay and myself the job of researching
the thought of femininity on TWA planes, and after a day's wrangling over 'stewardette' and
'hostess', Jack Frye settled the argument by voting for ‘hostess’. He had good reason, too, Jack
said the girls were to treat the passengers as if they were guests in their own homes.”
A gracious thank you to Helen Frye's family for the rare, never before seen, TWA Hostess Suit
photo, as displayed above! On the back of the old color photo from about 1943 it states simply,
as written by Helen's mother Maude, "the first 'TWA Suit' and it was designed by Helen!"
Helen Frye Fashion in the Press-
Tucson Airport- incoming TWA mini-airliner
December 25, 1940
President of TWA (Jack Frye’s) private plane
(NC18137) landed in Tucson Arizona around
noon on December 25 just long enough to
board Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt. Soon after,
the Lockheed-Twin powered up and departed
for Phoenix Sky Harbor where reporters
questioned the couple upon deplaning about
marriage plans, which they both denied. When
asked about future endeavors, Mr. Frye said he
was there on TWA business and to get over a
bad cold, while Mrs. Vanderbilt stated, “I’m
planning to go into business, to open a
millinery shop in Beverly Hills after the first of
the year. Mr. Frye is acting as my business
advisor!” Mrs. Vanderbilt is known as an
expert clothing designer and was wearing a buff
sport jacket, with pale green slacks, accented
by dark sun glasses. Both were booked at the
posh Scottsdale Camelback Inn.
Hotel Ambassador @ New York City
Late January 1941
Glamorous Mrs. Jack Frye was spotted having
cocktails with friends- dressed in a shimmering
copper lame blouse, accented by a lovely
off-the-face hat of copper fabric, trimmed in
black velvet bows, a Helen Frye creation! Mrs.
Frye finished off her smart outfit with a
luscious silver fox fur jacket! The Fryes lived
in NYC at a penthouse @ 345 Park Avenue.
That Fabulous Bird Cage Hat!
An ‘oft shared story by Helen of her many hats, as told to amused acquaintances, was when she
was wearing one of her more creative designs one day while shopping in Beverly Hills. Helen
passed a little boy being led down the sidewalk in hand by his mother, when Helen overheard
the little boy say as he passed, “Mommy, Mommy, look at the lady with the bird cage on her
head!” The mother looked over toward Helen and embarrassingly told her little boy to shush!
Marlene Dietrich- one of Helen's clients
At a party in Beverly Hills, Helen, as always, was wearing one of her famous hats. Marlene
Dietrich was also in attendance and joined Helen to chat. After introductions Marlene exclaimed
in her sultry voice, "Darling, where did you buy that lovely hat?" To which Helen replied, "I
designed it myself!" Marlene replied, "please Helen dear won't you design hats for me?"
Helen thereafter graciously agreed to supply Marlene with smart stylish hats and a wonderful
friendship was cemented in the process. At one time I contacted the Marlene Dietrich Museum
in an effort to track down hats made by Helen Frye in their collection. Unfortunately though,
none of the Helen Frye creations have been preserved in the collection.
Later Helen also designed clothing for Marlene, specifically slacks. Marlene Dietrich was a
trend setter in regard to slacks! Could it be that Helen herself helped contribute to this Marlene
signature look? Helen, at one time, actually delivered an entire Helen Frye design to Marlene in
Beverly Hills. Marlene then had the outfit altered by her favorite Hollywood seamstress.
It is true that Marlene did visit Jack and Helen's Sedona ranch for more than one western
get-a-way vacation, bringing her exquisite beauty and presence with her, as witnessed by Frye
friends in the early 1940’s. As a Frye ranch guest, Marlene graciously entertained the Fryes and
their friends with her husky singing style, in front of an Arizona campfire, down by Oak Creek.
Jack’s (late) cousin Tom had a photo (long since misplaced) of Jack and Helen standing in front
of Jack’s Electra Jr., somewhere in Mexico or Cuba. He described the plane as parked on the
beach of some resort with white sands and palm trees. Jack flew everywhere, he never had the
time to travel by train or car. TWA was nationwide, this is why Frye was called the "Flying
President" by the press and always had his own private plane, as he often had meetings on the
west and east coasts, sometimes on the same day! The Frye's were one of the busiest couples in
the country in the 40's and Helen often accompanied Jack on his private-business flights in the
(right) co-pilot's seat, and on commercial flights (the passenger area). All flights were 1st Class.
The Fryes pose for photographers (January 18,
1941). An event seemingly anytime they
boarded or exited a plane. Helen is holding a
silver fox fur coat. Location was LaGuardia
Airport (NJ-NYC) one of many versions which
ran in publications countrywide. Jack Frye was
always front page news. This image ran in the
TWA in-house publication Skyliner. Below
(right) is the only surviving image of the Frye
honeymoon as captured in Cuba or Florida
The honeymoon destinations of Louisiana,
Florida, and Cuba were postponed many times
over. As a matter of fact, I have never been
able to determine the exact dates, only that
they did eventually travel to Florida in Jack’s
Lockheed NC18137 sometime in January.
Mayflower Hotel Lounge, Washington D.C. December 20, 1944
Mrs. Jack Frye cocktails with girlfriends, movie star, Faye Emerson, and Garnett Gardiner,
(soon after Baroness Stackelberg) at the Mayflower Hotel lounge, for a Martini lunch. The
Fryes had flown home for the holidays to their Arlington (Doubleday Mansion) estate from the
west. Faye Emerson Roosevelt was meeting the First Family. The luncheon was interrupted by
many dignitaries and celebrities, all anxious to meet Elliott Roosevelt’s new wife, to include
Senator Albert Benjamin “Happy” Chandler. Media reports ran the story with photo of Helen
and Faye in front of 3 Martini glasses. Garnet was not in the image as she stood up so Faye and
Helen could be in the photograph at the small round table. Mrs. Roosevelt, with a perfect
complexion and blond hair held in a chignon, was wearing a light blue wool suit coat combo, with
a taupe felt beret cocked low over her right brow, all framed by a full length mink coat. Mrs.
Frye was sporting a wide brimmed straw colored hat with wide ribbon around the crown,
enhanced by a cream tailored suit with embroidered trim and large medallion buttons, framed
by uplifted heavy padded shoulders, all accented by ruby red lipstick and matching nails.
Mrs. Jack Frye W.V. Flight 1943
The Ambassador Hotel
The Bride Wore Buckskin- A Cowboy Affair
Rumors and Denials- Reporters Dodged
Front Page News- Media Darlings
A Day In The Life Of Frye- 1940's Style
Up early every day- never time to sleep in....
Jack picked his own clothes each day, but he did have a valet and a butler.
He was widely known as a meticulous dresser....
The Fryes had a full-time cook, housekeeper, and (later) full-time secretary at all their homes.
This help rotated between a the Kansas City estate, a flat @ Kansas City Airport, the Arlington
mansion and a Georgetown cottage @ Wash. D.C., and a large ranch @ Sedona....
While eating a hearty breakfast Jack Frye would skim the newspaper and review any pending
TWA business on his agenda for the day....
At Kansas City, Jack left for the office in his own car, usually driving himself. In the early
1940’s he favored Pontiac convertibles which were red with red leather interiors and fast. The
red leather matched the color of his TWA planes. Later, at General Aniline in Manhattan, a
chauffeured limo picked Jack up each day and delivered him to his office @ 230 Park Avenue....
At TWA and GAF Jack had an executive secretary, a personal assistant, and several
stenographers at his executive offices. He also employed a private TWA pilot, and by 1945, he
and Helen had a private TWA V.I.P. Hostess, Harriet Appelwick who staffed the presidential
Twin Lockheed Lodestar....
After a full morning at his office or in the air where Jack sometimes conducted TWA business,
he would do lunch. Usually with business associates or his wife Helen, and often times, at the
Men’s Club in Kansas City. It was not unusual for Frye to fly to another location like N.Y.C. or
Washington D.C. for a power-lunch with clients and associates....
By evening, Jack, more than not, was the last man out of the building after the janitor had
started his nightly routine. The smell of his cigar would linger in his richly paneled office....
Jack would either go home for dinner or meet associates, and or, Helen in town. Jack was never
a "big Texas drinker" so his focus each day was sharp and clear. If he did have a cocktail the
night before he would have a malted milk the next morning to clear his head.... He was truly a
remarkable business leader and entrepreneur. Everybody loved him and respected his prowess.
To say Jack Frye was 'driven' is likely the understatement of the century. Because Jack had no
immediate family, like other executives at TWA, he had the luxury of devoting all his time to
the company, something I think many TWA history buffs miss. Even his wives took a backseat
to his "marriage" with TWA!
Jack and Helen would meet at the airport where they would board the Lockheed Electra Jr. 12A,
or later (after 1944), the Lockheed Lodestar 18. These planes were flying offices for Frye. With
Helen accompanying him, along with other guests, he would criss-cross the country on a weekly
basis, sometimes, even bi-weekly. Jack would serve as pilot, but a TWA co-pilot would take over
when Jack conducted business in the passenger compartment. By 1942, or so, Jack was flying
between Kansas City and Washington D.C. regularly. Initially, about 1932 to 1943, he managed
TWA from Kansas City, but after the start of the war, he maintained the company from his
executive offices in Washington D.C. Frye also spent much time in New York City (at his office)
and Los Angeles too. He and Helen flew on TWA airliners in lieu of his 2 private planes,
depending on schedule, convenience, and commitments....
Credit: The image above (and at top of this page) was originally published by media-news
agencies. However, it was offered to the press by the Fryes on January 4, 1941 (when the
wedding was made public). There were no photographers or reporters allowed at the wedding.
This photo came to me as a vintage AP wire-photo or what we would categorize today as a copy
of an original used for various news publications. The image was not owned by news service
agencies (in the field) who reproduced (published) the image, rather it was on loan. The original
photographer is unknown (but likely was a private photographer hired by Jack Frye for the
wedding event). The image is not thought to hold a renewed (current) copyright. This original
vintage wire-photo from 1941 is owned by Sedona Legend. Further information regarding
photos seen on Sedona Legend can be found at the bottom of Page 2010.
Entertaining headlines preceded the
Frye Vanderbilt wedding with photos
of Jack and Helen nationwide
(front page in some newspapers).
"Cupid on the Desert?"
"Love is Literally in the Air"
"The Cowboy and the Lady"
To the (left) Frye was dressed in a
tailored outfit, wool slacks, custom
shirt (popular 1930's style), silk
cravat/ascot, light jacket and
expensive looking dark square toed
cowboy boots. In his hands were
Mrs. Vanderbilt was wearing a
delicate "baby doll" cashmere
sweater with exposed mid-drift, quite
daring for the time, cream draped
slacks with cork soled sandals.
Elegantly she is holding a cigarette
with dark ruby red fingernails.
On her wrist is seen a diamond
encrusted ruby bracelet with a
diamond Dragonfly spray pinned to
her sweater above the left breast.
Location is the Camelback Inn
5402 E. Lincoln Drive
Valley of the Sun
December 27, 1940
Newspapers report Jack Frye and Helen Vanderbilt met in October 1938, after that time, they
were frequently seen together at Kansas City and on the west coast at social gatherings.
Jack Frye divorced his Parisian born wife, Regine (Jean) LaCoste on September 9, 1939.
Could this be a result of his budding romance with Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jr.?
Wednesday December 18 1940
Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt receives her divorce from her husband Cornelius (Neil) Vanderbilt,
Jr. at Carson City, Nevada. The divorce decree was sealed indefinitely, no reason offered. Jack
Frye offered legal assistance for Helen through his attorneys. A difficult divorce, due to Neil
being out of the country often. He was always unavailable to servers who were hindered in
tracking down his location in the states and abroad. The ashes of this marriage left both parties
estranged for 3 years. Neil hoped for an eventual reconciliation, while Helen vowed to never
speak to him again! However, she sought a divorce only after her romance with Jack Frye
became serious in late 1940. After the divorce was granted the (now) former Mrs. Vanderbilt
left Northern Nevada for Beverly Hills to stay with friends.
Helen Vanderbilt is hounded by reporters in Los Angeles, Hollywood, and Tucson. At all
locations she tells reporters she is merely visiting long-time friends and there is no official
reason for her visit.
Tuesday December 24 1940
Jack Frye orders his personal Lockheed twin NC18137 (Electra Jr.) ready for a west coast trip
and clears his desk for a Christmas vacation. Even though he vehemently denies that he plans a
marriage to Mrs. Vanderbilt the consensus was that this was the reason for the trip and
reporters jumped on it at Kansas City (starting with the Kansas City Star). Late in the day the
TWA president lifted off for Tucson-Phoenix, but was grounded at El Paso for the night, due to
strong headwinds. There he secured his TWA executive plane and checked into a downtown
hotel. The flight was thought to transport Frye only with no co-pilot.
Christmas Wednesday December 25 1940
While waiting for favorable weather to take off in his Lockheed Electra Jr., NC18137, reporters
cornered Frye at the airport and questioned him about his plans to marry socialite Mrs.
Vanderbilt. Frye had no comment but did exhibit an 8 x 10 glossy of the beautiful Mrs.
Vanderbilt (in repose) for the press which he had in his briefcase. Frye stated that he was
indeed on his way to Tucson, and from there to Los Angeles. He said he would likely return to
Kansas City, via Houston, after the first of the year. Finally, shortly before noon, with twin
engines roaring, reporters watched as the Frye private Lockheed lifted off into the western sky
for Tucson. Within minutes reporters wired west coast affiliates of the expected arrival around
noon. Later, at about 1 P.M., the brilliant polished to a mirror TWA Lockheed twin was spotted
over Tucson, Arizona where it circled for a landing in the warm winter sun framed by dozens of
Saguaro cacti. Mrs. Vanderbilt was waiting at the airport and came out to greet Frye. Reporters
were hot on the trail of the couple and confronted them both as Frye secured the Electra. Mrs.
Vanderbilt was described as “an expert designer of women’s clothing” and was wearing light
green slacks, with a beige sport coat, off-set by chic dark sun glasses. She had just recently
arrived from Los Angeles. When asked if they were going to be married both parties were
evasive; however, Mrs. Vanderbilt told reporters of her plans to open a millinery shop in
Beverly Hills, at which Frye was to act as her business advisor. The 36-year old Frye stated the
flight from El Paso had been rough and he was in Arizona to get over a bad cold and enjoy some
sunshine. It was reported by several newspapers that the couple departed by car for Phoenix,
whereas, Mrs. Vanderbilt stated they were going to visit with a friend from Clarksburg, W.V.
(Mrs. Anita Smith) who was staying at the fashionable Camelback Inn (Scottsdale). However,
the couple, more likely, departed in Frye's Electra Jr. for Sky Harbor, and indeed, Mrs.
Vanderbilt was interviewed Dec. 25 (in another newspaper) as she stepped out Frye’s private
plane at Phoenix. So in reality the landing at Tucson was likely more so for Jack to meet Helen
who was staying there and to have some lunch. By evening's end the two were both booked at
Camelback Inn at Scottsdale in separate suites, and the TWA 12A was secured at Sky Harbor.
Thursday December 26 1940
Jack and Helen were now enjoying a stay at the Camelback Inn at Scottsdale where they were
constantly badgered for more details of the rumored wedding but both refused to divulge
information of any possible event. Meanwhile reporters watched courthouse records for a Frye
marriage license to be recorded.
Friday December 27 1940
On this day there was a Photo Op at the posh Camelback Inn at 5402 E Lincoln Drive, Paradise
Valley (Scottsdale). At least 5 images of Helen Vanderbilt and Jack Frye were taken amid
interviews. These images ran in news publications nationwide (along with photos of other
celebrities who were staying at the Inn, in the Arizona Highways Magazine). Again, when
pressed about the marriage, Jack Frye said, “we haven’t made the deal yet,” while Mrs.
Vanderbilt stated, “it might work out.” Frye was described as "a youthful, good-natured, husky
president of one of the nation’s largest airlines." Frye continued in stating, “we are just visiting
and having a swell time here.” It was stated (before arriving) Mrs. Vanderbilt had been in
Tucson visiting friends, and Frye had arrived by private plane to Tucson, on Wednesday.
Saturday December 28 1940
More nationwide newspaper copy with photos of the couple, “will they marry and when?”
Sunday December 29 1940
The Fryes continue to ride horses and enjoy the Scottsdale countryside.
Monday December 30 1940
Finally the news is released to the press: It's Official!
“She has accepted my proposal and we will probably be married in Phoenix,” stated Jack Frye,
president of Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc.
Tuesday December 31 1940
Happy New Year! 1941
Among fellow revelers at Scottsdale Arizona, again, Jack Frye confirmed to reporters that he
and the former Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt will be married “very soon”. He mentioned that the
exact date of the ceremony will be fixed, “as soon as I can contact my brother in Mexico City. I
promised him some time ago that I’d let him know in time to attend.” Frye’s aviator brother
Donald was slated to be best man.
Wednesday January 1 1941
Frye-Vanderbilt Wedding! New Year’s Day; however, there was not a peep in the news because
it was all kept top-secret (see article at top of the page). Another wedding, though, the
New Year’s Day union of Bette Davis to Arthur Farnsworth hit the headlines from Hollywood to
N.Y.C. The location, the (Justin Dart Ranch) at Rimrock Arizona, just a couple hours north of
where Helen and Jack were staying at Scottsdale. The location was the ranch of Jane Bryan
(former Hollywood actress) and a Davis intimate. The now famous Frye Ranch (Red Rock State
Park) was close by, just to the west, at Sedona.
Thursday January 2 1941
A photo and copy about Jack Frye and Helen Vanderbilt share the same page with news of the
Davis-Farnsworth wedding in Arizona. Bette Davis would soon become a passenger on Jack and
Helen’s private plane in a trip to see the ailing Farnsworth in late October of 1941 (See Page
1940). Departure was Kansas City- northbound. Meanwhile, on the same plane, Jack Frye and
Helen Vanderbilt arrived in Los Angeles from Phoenix, January 1 (further explained below).
Friday January 3 1941
More stories of the Frye marriage in the press nationwide. Yes, Jack was that newsworthy, and
Helen Vanderbilt was a famous well-connected New York society wife. Los Angeles newspapers
mentioned that Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Jr. was in town and had arrived yesterday evening
from Sky Harbor-Phoenix. (This was evidently a ruse, though, as she had actually been in town
for several days.) A photo of Mrs. Vanderbilt (from about 1938) ran with the story. Mrs.
Vanderbilt stated she was staying with a friend Irene Harper and also said she and Frye would
be married within a month (more ruse). “I have come to Los Angeles on business and our
marriage won’t take place until it has been cleaned up.” She further stated, “we are planning a
honeymoon by motor and air.” An “affidavit of a marriage license” obtained (January 1) by
Jack Frye was discovered by reporters when it was filed on this date at the Maricopa County
Superior Court clerk’s office (Phoenix). Later in the day reporters at last discovered that amid
much secrecy, Jack Frye (36) and Helen Vanderbilt (32), had been married on New Year’s Day!
Saturday January 4 1941
The Frye-Vanderbilt marriage license from Jan. 1 hit the nationwide news today in an AP
Los Angeles Times notation. How they managed to keep it all secret from the press was a minor
miracle! One thing is certain, the Fryes did not desire the wedding become a media circus and
there was no press at the wedding location. This was a decision which was the end result of a
media frenzy that lasted a week. Jack Frye was the youngest airline president in the world and
the only airline head to have a transport license where he could fly his own airliners with
passengers. He also had recently partnered with the famous Hollywood playboy Howard Hughes.
January 1, Jack’s Lockheed Jr. had departed Phoenix (shortly after the ceremony) and landed
at Los Angeles. Mr. and Mrs. Jack Frye were chauffeured by limousine to the Beverly Wilshire
where they spent the first leg of their honeymoon. The continuation of the honeymoon was to
be at Palm Springs, Louisiana, Florida, and Cuba, slated to commence Tuesday.
Sunday January 5 1941
Photos of the secret sunrise ceremony Frye-Vanderbilt wedding ran nationwide and in the L.A.
Times with story of the event. Meanwhile, Jack and Helen Frye continued to luxuriate at the
Beverly Wilshire and Jack took care of crucial TWA business while in Los Angeles. Yes, this
man was so busy that even his honeymoon was a combo-business trip.
Friday January 10 1941
The Fryes were visiting Washington D.C. and staying at the Mayflower Hotel for several days.
By mid-week they were scheduled to leave for New York City, and later Kansas City at which
point they will start their honeymoon for points south. But, as often is the case, Jack’s TWA
obligations dictated his life and honeymoon delays were becoming a daily event.
Frye-Vanderbilt Wedding- a Chronology
'Will There Be a Movie Cowboy-and-Lady Ending?' (media quote)
Recap on Details
There were many rumors printed in the media about the expected Frye wedding but the
following is the general story, as verified by newspapers:
Jack Frye left Kansas City Missouri on December 24, 1940 in his private plane. This was a
recently acquired (former Continental Airlines) Lockheed Electra 12A, tail number NC18137. It
is not known if he had passengers or a TWA co-pilot. He landed at El Paso Texas because of
hazardous headwinds. Waiting reporters badgered Frye after his arrival regarding his rumored
wedding to Mrs. Vanderbilt but Frye was mum only sharing a photo of Mrs. Vanderbilt which he
had in his briefcase. The next day (Dec 25) he left his El Paso hotel and continued west in his
plane to Tucson, arriving around 1:00 P.M., at which point he related to Arizona reporters that
it was a very bumpy flight. He was met by the attractive Mrs. Vanderbilt who was smartly
dressed in pale green slacks and a beige sport jacket. Just a "Christmas visit"- the couple
would not divulge any wedding plans to reporters. Jack stated he had come to get some
sunshine and was recovering from a bad cold. Mrs. Vanderbilt, recently arrived from Los
Angeles and wearing dark glasses said she was in Arizona to visit friends and mentioned her
plans to open a millinery (ladies hat shop) in Beverly Hills, after the first of the year. She said
Frye was her new business advisor. It was known publicly that Mrs. Vanderbilt, who was an
accomplished illustrator and artist, also designed women’s clothing and hats. One personal
friend and recipient of Mrs. Vanderbilt’s designs was Paramount star Marlene Dietrich.
Jack Frye was the most dedicated executive of Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc. For the 13
years he served as president and director he was never far away from his airline as no one else
could possibly fill his shoes. His involvement with the company was 24/7 and even his marriage
and honeymoon took a backseat to TWA business. On the day of the wedding Jack and Helen
flew over to his office at Los Angeles and checked into the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Within days,
they arrived at Palm Springs, California. By January 6th, they were at Washington D.C., where
they had a suite at the Mayflower Hotel. TWA had an office there, too. By January 18th, press
photos captured them exiting a TWA airliner, at LaGuardia Airport (NYC), yet another place of
business for TWA. Somewhere during that time, Jack's plane briefly cooled its engines at the
Kansas City Airport (10 Richards Road) where the Jack's executive offices were located. Jack
also had a flat nearby which enabled him to reside close to work. Close by was the location of
the 5-acre Frye estate, with swimming pond, at 5720 Foster Street, Overland Park, KS. Jack
had a presidential executive office at Kansas City, Washington D.C., and N.Y.C.
Frye Married to TWA- Limited Private Life
New York City interview- In part, "I spent a pleasant hour with Jack Frye, president of TWA
and his new wife, on a recent day. The Fryes were pausing for a few days at their apartment at
the Ambassador on Park Avenue, on the wing from Florida to their home at Kansas City."
January 29, 1941- New York Columnist Charles B. Driscoll, at the Ambassador Lounge
The former Mrs. Vanderbilt and Jack Frye were interviewed by reporters at Washington D.C. on
a stop-over in their suite at the Mayflower Hotel. The glamorous and beautiful Mrs. Frye was
wearing one of her own creations; a hat made out of cooper wire. (Further mentioned below).
Saturday January 18 1941
Jack and Helen Frye were met in the evening at LaGuardia Airport, New York City, by
reporters, and photographed as they descended the exit stairs of a TWA V.I.P. airliner.
Saturday January 26 1941
By the end of this week, Jack and Helen Frye were staying at the Ambassador Hotel in New
York City, (likely for TWA business). Helen was spotted with a martini in the hotel lounge. She
was wearing a black suit, shiny copper lame blouse, and silver fox jacket. This ensemble was
topped off by a copper hat with black velvet bows (a Helen Frye creation). As reported by the
Los Angeles Times.
Wednesday January 29 1941
The newlyweds were featured in the New York Times, after Jack and Helen were interviewed at
a nightclub (likely the 21 Club) by Charles Driscoll, for his popular column.
Credit: The image above was originally used by a media-news agency. It is a vintage wire-photo
or what we would categorize today as a copy of an original used for various news publications.
The image was not owned by news service agencies (in the field) who reproduced (published) the
image, rather it was on loan. The original photographer is unknown and this image is not
thought to hold a renewed (current) copyright. This original vintage wire-photo from 1941 is
owned by Sedona Legend. Further information regarding photos seen on Sedona Legend can be
found at the bottom of Page 2010.