July 17, 2009, East Stroudsburg PA: Eleanor ‘Ellie’ Frazetta, the
wife of celebrated artist Frank Frazetta, passed away today to be with the Lord after a courageous one-year battle with cancer.
Eleanor Kelly was born in Massachusetts and moved to New York where she married Frank in November, 1956. She acted as his business partner as well as his lifelong companion. Known for her feisty personality as well as her intuitive business acumen, she was instrumental in successfully establishing record prices for Frank’swork throughout her life.
She is survived by her husband Frank, her four children, Frank Jr.,Billy, Holly and Heidi, numerous grandchildren, and many friends.
A public memorial is planned and details will be announced
shortly. In the meantime, the family requests privacy.
On behalf of the Frazetta Family
That was the announcement that went out over the internet on Friday, July 17. This is my belated tribute to Ellie.
Eleanor “Ellie” Frazetta was born to Edward and Agnes Kelly on June 15, 1935, in Middleborough, Massachusetts. She met Frank Frazetta after her family moved to New York City. After several years of courtship, Frank and Ellie were married in 1956.
Besides being a wife and mother, Ellie Frazetta took an intense interest in Frank’s career. Apparently, Ellie was the one who pushed her husband to retain his paintings, rather than letting book companies hold on to the originals. That was a revolutionary practice in the paperback industry during the 1960s. Over the years, she also was assiduous in tracking down paintings that were still in the possession of publishers and buying them back. Her efforts paid big dividends in later years and especially benefitted the still-nascent Frank Frazetta Museum.
Once Frank Frazetta’s career really began to take off, it was Ellie who started and managed the Frazetta mail-order business. This was when Mrs. Frazetta really began to gain her reputation in the art world as a tough but honest businesswoman, one who was extremely protective of Frank and his work. An anecdote from a member of the Official Robert E. Howard Forum is illuminating. Apparently, his nine year-old self (in 1976) had sent his handwritten request for a catalog to the Frazetta mail-order business. A few days later he received a catalog, filled with glossy images of Frank’s beautiful paintings. At the top of the order-form page, Ellie had written, “These catalogs aren’t free. You owe me $2.50. Just send it with your first order. Regards, Ellie.” I think that shows her tough-minded good-heartedness as well as anything.
Over the next few decades, the Frazetta merchandising business thrived and Frank’s artwork continued to rise in value, with Ellie keeping a close eye on both. She was the one who, by all accounts, spearheaded the Frazetta Museum project. The third and final incarnation of that dream was opened to the public in 2003 in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. That unveiling was the centerpiece of the excellent Frazetta documentary, Painting With Fire. Ellie is all over that documentary and rightfully so.
All indications are that Eleanor Frazetta was a fine woman and a true partner to her husband. Every fan of Frank Frazetta owes a debt to her. My condolences and sympathies go out to Frank and the rest of his family.
*Painting of Ellie by Frank Frazetta